When Nils Frahm walked back on stage for his encore he had only stepped off for two seconds. He made it clear before his final piece that he doesn’t linger. Approaching one of 6 pianos, he taps the first note, and the sky opens up. The vastness and space the single note creates throws me into the open plains. As each note follows I picture myself soaring over an ocean, so high above the surface I can see the reflection of the clouds. Then nils begins to build into a crescendo. The notes stacking on top of each other. I’m transported to a mountain and each note is a rung, pulling me up and up towards the summit. As he reaches the peak of the crescendo, I crest the top of the mountain and before me is the infinite stretch of mountain range. Snow capped peaks pointing up in an endless space.
And as soon as the expanse is conjured, it vanishes.
This is Nils' strength. For many of the pieces he would start with a single melody, building, drawing out each note. Stretching and pulling, he adds to the sound. He continues to build, forming a wall of sound where the once distinguishable parts have blended into something that washes over you. But just like that he pulls it away. When one wave of noise disappears it was sometime met with the thrumming of a growing bass line. A pulse that suddenly catches the body, starting so subtle it makes one wonder if it had been there the whole time, just having peak out from the wave. And as the bass line builds, the ghostly image left behind by the wall of sound lingers, ringing in the ears. As if its entire energy left a ghost of its sound in our ears.
Perhaps it was the slowly fading waves of noise leaving a lingering presence, or the piano that seemed to sing with the voices of angels, rising above the din and parting the clouds to reveal a bright sun, but this performance was a spiritual experience. Carrying me along a journey from the lonely vastness space to the sunlit clouds. Hauntingly beautiful sounds that have once more convinced me that the evolution of a piece in real time is best experienced in person. To watch Nils Frahm enter a trance like state as he played, a single light casting down upon him, everything around me vanished and I was enveloped into the music.