Put him in a tux, and he could be a virtuoso classical pianist – especially on Hammers, a brief but breathtaking tour de force that sounds like Philip Glass on steroids.
Imagine him in a labcoat, and he’s a slightly mad inventor: an acoustic chemist creating experimental petri dishes of sound and watching them grow in real time. Darting back and forth between various pianos, digital and analogue keyboards and racks of effects units, he builds tiny arpeggios into ecstatic electro-acoustic raves filled with intricate details: a chorus of invisible pan pipes; a choir of unearthly voices; a burst of improvised syncopation on a sci-fi synthesizer.
The sheer physicality of Frahm’s performance also brings to mind an elite athlete, as he sprints across the stage from one instrument to another and literally embodies the music as it unfurls, rocking his torso gently on wistful ballads like My Friend the Forest or thrashing his limbs in sync with the throbbing hypnosis of All Melody.
From the tender hum of the harmonium that opens the show to More’s impassioned crescendo two hours later, we’re immersed in the beguiling sonic universe of an artist whose warmth and passion lend even his most digitally enhanced creations a distinctly human heartbeat.