On All Melody, Nils Frahm challenges himself artistically more than ever before venturing into new areas to create an album melodiously articulate. Only, the listener has to be willing to immerse themselves into the album rather than let it play as an ambient background to truly experience the album as it was intended.
Known for combining classical and electronic elements to create an ambience that is both unconventional and meditative, Nils Frahm’s minimalistic style is very distinguishable in an auteur kind of sense. Just as the album cover for All Melody depicts, or even in his live album Spaces (2013), there is a great deal of focus and detail in Nils’ way of using what is at his disposal. As seen in his live performances, Nils surrounds himself with a variety of different instruments continuously looping minimal sounds slowly adding building textures that can lead to an emphatic finish like on his stellar song ‘Says’. However, whilst a lot of this structure can still be heard on All Melody, there is no real strive for a big finish like in ‘Says’, rather the aim is more about the intricacy of creating a space.
This idea of ‘space’ is a very influential factor in the making of All Melody, and was discussed in an interesting piece by Crack Magazine where Nils tries to express how the album is more about instinct and feeling than anything else. Not only this, he also mentioned how the album was inspired by his home city Berlin where the architecture is designed in such a way that allows his melodies to flourish rather than get drowned out by the chaos of a busy city. Because of this, All Melody tends to have a melancholic air to it, appealing to the introverted side of yourself that appreciates the beauty in the little things. For example, the soft piano melodies in ‘My Friend the Forest’ and ‘Forever Changeless’ which link back to his previous works, however, on All Melody the tempo seems to be slower and somewhat more sombre which only heighten the emotional depth of the album. It also provides somewhat of variety for the majority of the album leans closer towards the electronic or experiential side.
On occasion, the use of electronic synths found across All Melody can seem quite motivating such as the pulsating rhythm on the title track. Here you can really visualise Nils at work battling to maintain of all the sounds together whilst simultaneously implementing new parts and fading others to create a balance. This gives reason to the 8 or 9-minute length tracks across the album due to their evolving nature. However, it would be wrong to say that the album doesn’t get repetitive, for it almost feels on occasion that the tracks are simply different versions of each other, which on the one hand creates a kinetic flow tying the album together, but on the other weighs the album down from being as memorable as it could be.
Thankfully though, All Melody finishes on a considerable high note with the last two tracks. The former being ‘Kaleidoscope’, which begins with bellowing pipe organs that create an atmosphere equal to the dystopian future depicted in Blade Runner, before it kicks into an eerie rhythmic tone in some relatively fast-paced arpeggios. This is only emphasised by the soaring high notes sung by an unfeatured guest vocalist used in a very similar fashion to the way Tim Hecker used vocals in his last album Love Streams. The vocals used not only in this track but across the album provide Nils with exactly what he was looking for; sounds that resemble human emotion without the necessity of lyrics. Finally, the album ends on arguably the most passionately executed song on the album which is hard to define despite its minimalism, perhaps it embodies Nils’ idea of instinct and feeling perfectly.
To say All Melody is a personal album would be an understatement. Whether discussing its personal feeling in relation to Nils himself or the listener, both are undeniable. Overall, All Melody is an album to put on when you feel like drowning out everything outside of your headphones.