Review Summary: Something big indeed...
If there's ever a name to excite Neoclassical fans more than anyone else, it's Nils Frahm. Nils Frahm was always a name, which has been associated with 'POTENTIAL' and that big things were going to come from him. That big thing has arrived and has taken the name and body known as "Spaces".
This is Nils Frahm's 4th LP and anyone who is familiar with the name will be aware that he and the likes of Ludovico Einaudi and Olafur Arnalds are spearheads for neoclassical and minimal music. Whereas past LP's from Frahm capture this bill perfectly, "Spaces" adds touches of ambience whilst still keeping to its roots. The best example of this on the album is from the second track 'Says'. It starts off slowly and quietly, focussing on reverb heavy synths with the occasional bit of piano flying in and out. As the song grows, the synths become louder and more spacious until piano chords layer over everything else to create quite a grand and ethereal atmosphere. Easily one of the highlights from this album.
I sat down and listened to this in a cold and dark room and was totally blown away by the sheer beauty of it. A couple of songs such as 'Over There, Its Raining' and 'Went Missing' are solely piano pieces and they use space and dynamics brilliantly to convey what almost feels like isolation. Along with that, the lone piano sounds light and warm and needs to be listened alone to have full effect. However, this isn't necessarily always put to good use. One of the longer songs on the album 'Unter - Tristana - Ambre' is an 11 and a half minute 3 part piece and shows that space can sometimes just be a bit bland. Because the track is solely piano and doesn't vary much in terms of dynamics as much as others, the song comes across as being a bit too long. The lack of any build up and climaxes really causes the song to drag out and just sound very plain during parts.
This album is not perfect by any means and contains some very noticeable flaws. Tracks such as 'Said and Done' and 'Hammers' come across as repetitive at times and hold very little replay value. To put it plainly, they're boring. Some songs also come across as sounding rather lazy and undeveloped such as 'Ross' Harmonium', which ends up being a pretty disappointing song to finish the album with. These disappointments, however, prove to be minimal (no pun intended) in the grand scheme of things. In the end, "Spaces" proves to be a very much enjoyable experience throughout and certainly brings something new into the sometimes slow world of Neoclassical music.