Hearing the first notes of For, the sound of Nils Frahm's new composition comes strangely unexpected given his generally accepted image of a contemporary classical pianist. Along with his peers, Ólafur Arnalds, Dustin O'Halloran among others, Frahm prefers form above technical brilliance and swims in a flow of something what can be called post-minimalism. There are neither vivid and brave orchestrations in a vein of Arvo Pärt or John Cage, nor are Arnalds' or O'Halloran's arrangements as daring and provocative as John Adams' or Henryk Górecki's. Surely, the young generation doesn't call the elders to a battle; they evolve a concept of simplicity and emotional clarity – something needed in nowadays overcrowded world.
That’s why For and Peter, two improvisational compositions from limited vinyl Juno (released today on Erased Tapes), come bit unexpectedly. For consists exclusively of dark, organ-tinged analogue synthesizers imprisoned in never-ending harmonic loops and simple melodic loops. Frahm’s mind raises to a more hopeful, blue hills and descends back into sedated comfort of dusk. The reason why For deserves an attention is its liberation of all those clichés about synthetic music; Frahm preserves the composition from falling into cold, inhuman territories. I believe that he reaches this strange warmness either by the patience which is present in every harmonic modulation or in the calm evolution of the motive and in the very selection of the synthesizers which recall the embracing sound of pipe-organ. Finally, he has already demonstrated his affection towards electronics on 7fingers, his collaborative effort with cellist Anne Müller and Juno just follows the suite.
But this time, he’s alone with his synthesizers – no other instruments are put in the mix – and Peter Broderick as his recurring muse. After all, the mystery of the cozy nature of For may dwell in its devotion to a particular person and an underlying emotion: the classic source of beauty in music. You may perceive For (and the entire EP Juno) as a surprising experiment; but it’s rather an expression of a personal feeling through an automatized device controlled by human fingers and living, creative mind.