- It's no surprise that Nils Frahm is frequently offered film soundtrack work, though he habitually turns it down. As a matter of creative freedom, Frahm only agreed to work on Victoria after its director, Sebastian Schipper, guaranteed that the German pianist and his long-term collaborators—cellist Anne Müller, violist Viktor Orri Árnason, experimental guitarist Erik K. Skodvin—could work on the music their usual way: improvising for hours on end. So the ensemble set up in a Berlin studio, looped the film on a huge screen, and got to work digging deeper and deeper into the process.
The finished material can't entirely escape its cinematic origins. Pianoless pieces "In The Parking Garage" and "The Bank" are meditative moods that clearly fulfill a certain atmospheric purpose. They're functional, didactic even, in their tense, sombre tone. Like the DJ Koze edit of his "Burn With Me" single (a crisp, whimsical slice of psychedelic house), these songs are secondary to those that allow Frahm to do his thing.
Frahm's piano playing is so distinctive and personal, it feels ill-suited for something as disconnected as a soundtrack. Yet the tracks on which his piano leads and the other musicians act as his foil—such as "The Shooting" or the tape-hiss-drenched "Them" (its strings gliding back and forth like the loneliest slide guitar)—work exceptionally well independent of the film. They are beautiful and emotionally wrenching. Though it lasts less than three minutes, "Pendulum" will haunt you. Over queasy funereal strings and what sounds like a harmonium, Frahm drops a sudden cluster of anguished bass notes, then quickly disappears from the track. This is a minor work, but a minor work from a master of his art.
01. Burn With Me (Victoria Edit by DJ Koze)
02. Our Own Roof
03. A Stolen Car
04. In The Parking Garage
06. The Bank
07. The Shooting
08. Nobody Knows Who You Are
10. Happy New Fear (Bonus track by Deichkind)
11. Marilyn Whirlwind (Bonus track by DJ Koze)