Nils Frahm
Photo: Courtesy of LEITER

Nils Frahm’s ‘Music for Animals’ Is a Musical Waterfall of Monumental Proportions

Nils Frahm’s Music for Animals is for those who don’t mind taking ten minutes to let a chord come to full bloom as their patience leads to truly transcendent moments.

Music for Animals
Nils Frahm
23 September 2022

Nils Frahm‘s Music for Animals is large. There are only ten tracks, but the entire thing lasts over three hours. The total runtime of the two “singles” is 26 minutes, and a song named “Briefly” goes on for 27 minutes. No, this isn’t a joke. Recent releases like All Melody, All Encores, and Tripping with Nils Frahm exceeded the 70-minute mark, but this is tantric ambient music on a whole other level. The motivation behind such a project is best described by Frahm, likening the music to a continuous flow of water:

“My constant inspiration was something as mesmerizing as watching a great waterfall or the leaves on a tree in a storm. It’s good we have symphonies and music where there’s a development, but a waterfall doesn’t need an Act 1, 2, 3, then an outcome, and nor do the leaves on a tree in a storm. Some people like watching the leaves rustle and the branches move. This record is for them.”

– Nils Frahm

There’s almost no better way to put it than that. Music for Animals is for those who do not care if it takes ten minutes to let one chord come to full bloom. Some may volunteer the opinion that this is the musical equivalent of watching paint dry, but they are obviously not the target audience here. However, it’s not too late to learn how to stretch your attention span around these three hours of music because there are moments that absolutely soar. Patience isn’t a virtue here; it’s a requirement.

Frahm helped create an unofficial holiday named Piano Day on the 88th day of the year. He’s also helped develop the world’s biggest upright piano, the Model 450i Klavens. Then, around the time he began work on 2018’s All Melody, Frahm also developed his own studio and outfitted it with enough electronic toys to help conjure any sound from his imagination. There is no piano on Music for Animals. There is rarely anything resembling a felt hammer softly striking a string. The overall dynamic remains low throughout, making this collection the perfect soundtrack for aligning your senses, zoning out, or falling asleep. Fear not; those truly transcendent moments will not pass you by – all you have to do is wait.

Some of the moments to wait for are the cool, pitch-bent lead buried two-thirds of the way into “Seagull Scene”, the gentle clanging of distant bells over the underwater waltz that is “Briefly”, the barely-there cascading synthesizer in “Right Right Right”, and the sighing back-and-forth that propels “World of Squares”. This is all just a starting point. When an entire triple album is at your disposal, you can’t just dive in and try to sniff out all the highlights so quickly. That goes double (triple?) if it’s a triple album of intensely-focused ambient music that reveals new depths during each spin. Since Frahm explains it so well himself, we’ll let him have the last word: “It all comes back to that waterfall. If you want to watch it, watch it. If you don’t, then you don’t have to. It will always be the same, yet never quite the same.”

RATING 7 / 10