Geez, the week is halfway over! I know because I’m rushing to catch it, which means I have to focus. And nothing helps me focus like the music of Nils Frahm. So I’m going to share this track, “Fundamental Values,” originally on the album All Melody. The version here is a recording featured on the live album Tripping with Nils Frahm. At just over 14 minutes long, the song is still over too soon.
Nils Frahm makes the music that Brian Eno and Bill Evans would’ve made if they somehow came together while a hurricane was bearing down on the studio. It’s urgent and loud and exhausting, but also patient and quiet and soothing. The prolific Frahm makes piano music — “post” and “neo” prefixes are often used as labels — that makes a combustion cycle look relaxed. Hammers striking like cams spinning overhead.
Seriously, I know it’s long but be patient, because it pays off when listening to Nils Frahm. In “Fundamental Values” the pay-off comes sooner rather than later: around the 02:41 mark. But the song is literally just starting, so buckle in.
I’ve said this before, but the main excuse I use to take any road trip is concerts. My town isn’t big enough to host many artists. So, I pack my car full of snacks and drive through the stupidly big state of Texas to see artists perform in the state — or further, if necessary. I was lucky enough to catch Nils Frahm play at the Texas Theater in Dallas back in 2019. It was a revelation.
Seeing Nils play piano is like watching Michael Jordan at the 1988 Slam Dunk Contest, or Marc Marquez at the 2015 Grand Prix of the Americas. It is to be in awe of the mastery we can have over an instrument or basketball or superbike. Nietzsche (read it like Porsche) famously said, “Without music, life would be a mistake.” Nietzsche is prone to making claims like these, which are better read as poetry and, of course, aphorisms than as lines in a treatise. But he’s right about music; I didn’t really believe it until I saw Nils Frahm play the piano.