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“Oh man, he’s the new Nils Frahm” seems to be Norman Reviews editor Clint’s catchphrase, these days. A new Frahm is born unto us every day and a new pianist is using the Frahmian mode every other week. Claudio Ranieri? He’s like the Premier League’s Nils Frahm, buddy. Plinky plink plinky plonk.
To be fair, though: Ben Lukas Boysen is absolutely the new Nils Frahm. This man plays the piano like he’s throwing a duvet over you, casting his hands intermittently on warming and ever-so-affecting chords until he gets a poignant progression. He plays with space as much as instrumentation, and he meshes his momentary brushes of sound with electronic supplements that are every bit as delicate. On “Gravity”, he invokes drums so soft they could document a television shot of ice breaking. He brings in synth, which at first squelches, before he realises he’d rather it cast a long ambient shadow.
Much of what Boysen does can be chalked up to the more cinematic leanings of Frahm, Johannsson and Arnalds, but distant corners of his sound reveal a discrete ambient mind to go with the sad chord tinkerer. “To The Hills” begins with a near-silent fog drone that persists underneath the chord progression and oscillating electronics that eventually blaze out of it. His ambience is a deep, entrenched kind, recalling Siavash Amini in choice moments and the Stars of the Lid contingent at others -- in fact, “Gravity” perfectly encapsulates where he’s coming from, with a lilting backdrop in Adam Witzie’s mould and piano as punctuating as Dustin O’Hallaran’s. You’ve heard it all before, I’d wager, but what a beautiful way to hear it again.
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- Gravity by Ben Lukas Boysen
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