On the most recent Late Night Tales, Nils Frahm doesn't so much mix together an album of songs as gently weave them.
Taking in a wide variety of styles spanning sources including vinyl (yawn), cassette (hipster!), minidisc (???!) and phonograph (even more hipster!), Frahm constructs a sort of musique concrète concept compilation album. Much of what is here has been edited, distorted and re-made.
If you want to know what to expect, you need only know that the album opens with a cover version of John Cage's infamous 4'33", a piece of 'music' famous for the very fact it isn't music at all, but simply vacuous silence. Rather than record his own silence, Frahms' cover is actually a piano piece (in his own words "I sat at the piano in silence and worked from there. I listened and took in the atmosphere and this is what came out of it").
The album all of this creates feels predictably separate from every other entry in the Late Night Tales series I've heard. At times it is twisted in a way that is hard to put your finger on - listening to Gene Autry's Your The Only Star In My Blue Heaven sounds eerily like something from Bioshock Infinite's vision of the future, light on the surface but simmering with darkness beneath. Hearing it feels like hearing the crackling snatches of humanity filtering through the vacuum of space as you drift off never to see the earth again... It is what I imagine Sandra Bullock's character to be hearing when she comes close to drifting out of orbit in Gravity.
When he isn't creeping you out, Nils Frahm spends his time creating moments that are either staggering complex or surreal. Colin Stetson's The Righteous Wrath of an Honorable Man manages to utilise what must surely be every note a clarinet can play, all at once, and still make it sound fantastic. Nina Simone's Who Knows Where The Times Goes is beautiful and poignant, eventually dissolving into a muffled meow and the purrs of Frahm's girlfriend's cat Cleo before we dart off somewhere new.
The album closes with the hauntingly beautiful Honey Bunch by The Gentleman Losers followed by a solo piano edit of Frahms' own Them from his recent score to film Victoria. This is an album of depth but it unfurls its charms slowly... And for that it deserves your time.
Nils Frahm's Late Night Tales is released on 11 September. Check out the video for Nils Frahms' cover of 4'33" below. You can buy the album directly from Late Night Tales and the album is available to stream in full until 14 September here.