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nonkeen - the gamble

nonkeen - the gamble

by , 22 January 2016

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There aren't very many bands that can claim that they started in primary school and still maintain their original line-up, but nonkeen are one of the few that can. Nils Frahm, Frederic Gmeiner and Sebastian Singwald's musical partnership dates back to the late-eighties. Frahm and Gmeiner produced their own radio show in their second year of education, making field recordings of their teachers, the playground, and each other practising their instruments. The East German Singwald met the pair during a sports exchange, becoming the radio show's own DDR school reporter. Yet it was through this mutual love of recording that the trio played and reworked everything from children's folk to classical compositions, forming a band after the wall came down.

Having gone their separate ways in their mid-teens, nonkeen only recently started playing music together in experimental sessions with tape machines on Singwald's basement. the gamble was the product of this reunion and a melting pot of the three musician's childhood material and what the three have worked on since. Nils Frahm's involvement is evident across the record in the form of those familiar, minimalist keys and synths. 'the beautiful mess' evokes images of smoky Parisian streets; a similar aesthetic to his recent Late Night Tales release. The looping, continuous instrumentation style of Dawn of Midi characterises much of the record, while Boards of Canada meets Four Tet on the dystopian synth groans and pops of 'animal farm' and 'chasing god through palmyra'. The comforting warmth of cassette fuzz binds itself to the entire work, making the gamble an intimate experience akin to anything that Nils Frahm has laid his hands on. This has allowed nonkeen to find the perfect balance between experimental and familiar.

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Rating: 7.5/10

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