A few days ago, it was the birthday of German minimalist musician Nils Frahm. Though I am sure something beautiful happened in his physical presence, he chose to mark it digitally by releasing Screws, an elvish piece recorded in little over a week. The record is free, and is as blasted and delicate as the rest of Frahm’s work; it limps along in sensitive shoes.
For once, Frahm matches the wounded nature of his music. He broke his thumb, a black moment for any pianist, and settled in for nearly a fortnight of casted inaction. But, being a superb example of humanity, he decided instead to record an album, without his thumb. Every day he recorded a new song, and went to sleep to recuperate. The day that his cast came off, and his physiotherapy began, he had a new album, conducted to him in a haze of pain and cold worry.
I can’t tell from listening that the digit is missing, but that novelty was never going to be a big part of this record. He jumped on the opportunity as a way to help himself recover, not to desperately elevate himself as a tragic interest. The album is more delicate than “The Bells”, which is almost jolly, and little lighter than “Wintermusik”, a three-track work that is heavy on held bass notes and a mealy, wooly sense of freeze. I love it.