This Ólafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm article was written by Sarah Gosling, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Nick Roseblade
In an EP built on tracks which sound like a precise rendering of narcotics-riddled confusion, it’s no surprise that Nils Frahm and Ólafur Arnalds’ latest collaboration ‘Loon’ began life as half-formed memories of Nils’ youth being ‘smuggled to Goa parties by my brother’.
In its defence, opening track ‘Four’ does manage to beautifully intertwine their new synths with the piano prowess seen on their recent ‘Life Story Love and Glory’, and ‘Wide Open’ really does make an engagingly good dub-trance type track. From thereon in though, it all gets a bit unnecessarily weird. If at the party with them, this is the part where everything gets blurry and you’re not quite sure why you’re in a feather boa and soaking wet. It makes no sense, but you’re forced to accept it and plough on regardless.
It’s this randomness and fogginess which takes centre stage as the names get shorter and the songs get sparser with them; ‘w’ sounds like aliens trying their spacey hand at beatboxing until halfway through, the track mellows and becomes far more like futuristic lift music. ‘m’ meanwhile, though a masterful tapestry of composition, soon becomes tiresome as it refuses to develop, epitomising the most literal definition of ‘trance’ music as it tirelessly puts you into one.
Word on the street is that ‘Loon’ was created in five days as essentially an experiment with Nils’ fancy new synths. While self-indulgence has its place, ‘Loon’ feels like an indulgence which wasn’t fully ready to see the light of day. Though it may start strong, it peters out into an ambient and half-baked sounding blob; all well and good for a bedroom jam session, less so for a professional EP. As Nils commented of the Goa parties, “’Loon’ is almost a blurry memory of these times”: it’s just a shame they couldn’t sharpen the focus a touch.