It’s not an unfamiliar production style. Just as Nils Frahm hibernates inside the piano to observe the percussive mechanism behind the soft and graceful melody emitted externally, each note on Five Songs is rendered crucial and deliberate by the clunk of wooden hammer that precedes it. Equally, the notes themselves gain a tangible warmth for being captured and trapped inside the body of the piano itself, forced to ricochet back in on themselves and sending the wooden carcass into soft vibration. These songs aren’t presented as the immaculate end result; rather, they are birthed in real time, as thumbs and fingers trigger an intricate sequence of hammer falls and send strings into a deep, swamping resonance.
It’s 18 minutes long and passes extremely quickly. Once it’s over I feel like I’ve caught myself daydreaming into the song of a small music box; it’s fleeting, brittle, and beset with a gentle and somewhat modest emotional lure. Some of the more woozy and cinematically inclined contemporary piano players come to mind – Eluvium’s Matthew Cooper, flashes of Carlos Cipa – and Five Songs feels quietly content in letting its music unfurl organically within this template, with its real melancholy deriving in its helpless inevitability rather the potency of any particular sequence of chords.