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F.S. Blumm & Nils Frahm - Music For Lovers Music Versus Time [Sonic Pieces - 2010]

For their debut as a collaborative unit, German composers F.S. Blumm & Nils Frahm have recorded an album of improvisation so refined, the tracks could as easily be loosely rhythmic classical pieces as free jams.  "Music For Lovers Music Versus Time" is 9 tracks, similar in sound and pacing.

Acoustic guitar, piano and mallet percussion tones trickle whimsically in separated 3 or 4 note gestures, twining pleasantly around each other in sketched, meandering chord progressions.  The music never finds a sure tonal center, and yet no pitch rings out as abrasive or unexpected.  There is no clear direction or build of intensity, rather the musicians are content to establish a carpet of sound that remains at consistent volume and density even as the melodic fragments shift.  Trumpets, chimes and rustling field recordings make appearances as well, thickening the patchwork of call and response. 

There is some gentle processing on the instrumentation as well.  Usually, it's no more drastic than a few backwards notes, and never draws much attention to itself.  Blumm & Frahm rely largely on the depth of the acoustic timbres to fascinate the listener in and of themselves.

"Music Versus Time" is an apt phrase to describe these sounds, as there's probably about as much silence as sound to be found here, leaving time purposefully protracted.  These musicians push the boundaries of our attention and patience, but possibly for our own good - anyone who managed to remain engaged in listening for the entirety of this recording would find themselves deeply relaxed and breathing slowly.

Like other music so quiet, subtle, and slow, it has a feeling of domestic peace, solitude and fragility, comparable to the feeling of staying home while the rest of the family is away, or lounging on the porch on a long, hot, uneventful day on which time has little meaning.  Compassion and warmth are of the music's essence, hence the "Music For Lovers" portion of the title.

"Rone Re" hints at the mysterious and profound, seemingly inspired by the indescribable results of a focused inner journey, or by feelings of awe at the massive scope of nature and rich history of mankind.  Majestic, poetic and ancient in spirit, tracks like this represent a transcendent aspect to this album which too often remains dormant.  These two have perfectly captured the feel of revelatory experience that takes place solely within the mind.

Ultimately, the rare patience and calm that permeates "Music for Lovers Music Versus Time" will be what draws listeners to it, and also what pushes them away from it.  The album cannot be faulted for its obviously intentional consonant slowness, but I must admit it was some time after receiving this album before I was really able to give it a focused listen.  Listeners should decide for themselves whether this recording sounds like their cup of tea.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Josh Landry
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