I’ve written about Nils Frahm’s “Says” before, as part of Slowdive’s recent Slowdaze mix, but it’s such an amazing song that it deserves a post all its own. Taken from Frahm’s Spaces album, a live recording culled from 30 different concerts, “Says” is a bit different than the melancholy, nostalgic piano ballads that one finds on previous albums like 2012’s Screws.
“Says” starts out tentatively, with softly fluttering electronic pulses and tones. Clusters of echoing piano notes sound out here and there, as if Frahm is slowly testing the limits of his sounds, to see what that bed of electronics can possibly support. By the midway point, the electronics grow in urgency, volume, and intricacy until they seemingly take on a life of their own, wildly undulating and arpeggiating until matched in the final moments by Frahm’s pounding piano.
It’s both a cathartic release and beautiful struggle between the two aspects of Frahm’s sound. You forget that it’s a live recording until the last few seconds when a crowd erupts in applause, and justifiably so. And then you’re overcome with envy because they got to experience such a piece of music firsthand and you did not.
But of course, there’s always YouTube.