School friends Nils Frahm and Frederic Gmeiner met Sebastian Singwald when he attended their school in Hamburg for a fortnight in ‘89. Whilst the musical bond was instant, disaster intervened at a fairground gig when seats from a roundabout broke throwing two people onto the stage. They decided never to play together again. Some years later, the trio began to play again and Nonkeen were born, The Gamble is their debut album. Frahm says that it is the album he is most proud of. The vinyl version contains an exclusive track, For Voice.
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This record follows the bizarre story of the band’s early stages. Imagine a sunny mid-90s German fairground with Nils Frahm, Sebastian Singwald and Frederic Gmeiner playing mildly bleak, semi-electronic jams to passing families. What a sight. All of a sudden, a roundabout seat comes flying off and the passengers land in the kick drum and bass amp.
Such a weirdly slapstick event actually had disastrous consequences for the band, who didn’t start playing again til the mid-to-late 00s, recording their sessions to all the tape machines in the world. As a result, the simple combination of drums, bass, keys and occasional guitar and synth gel into a lo-fi melange that evokes and certainly exorcises that fateful fairground day all those years ago. They meditate on the same beat for a good few minutes (thickened by saturating tape) while weaving gradual melodies and looped bars around it with a healthy dollop of reverb, referencing the production styles of Broadcast or Death and Vanilla with the jam structures of a sadder and more chilled out Rocketnumbernine or even (dare I say it) Talk Talk. So yeah it’s a bit post-rocky but not really.
It’s a nice story when people embrace the past like this, isn’t it? These lot have even gone so far as to sample or base tracks off their old childhood jams, plundering their little selves. The musical result speaks for itself.
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- The Gamble by nonkeen
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