It’s a delight be able to go into a listen not knowing at all what to expect, even if the title of the piece seems to give a hint. Never look into a title too much before you listen. For an album called “All Melody”, it sure didn’t give the melodic layer a whole lot of obvious exposure or gravity to direct the music. Most all the gravity, weight, and worth came from something much more obvious and able to handle all of the expressive ideas, which was the beautiful entrancing timbre. So much went right in the way the sound was carefully organized: the seamless mood switches between the acoustic smooth jazz instrumentation in songs like “My Friend the Forest” to the dominant percussive yet wonderfully controlled synthetic sounds in songs like “#2”. Changes in textural layering were done like magic, as sounds from different synthesizers or pitched percussion came and went without detection or pomp, only for the listener to end up getting used to whatever had been unknowingly repeating. This is truly an experience to get lost in, as attempting to follow along beat by beat will leave you with more questions than answers. Percussion played a nice big role throughout, either from snare brushes, clapping, or the boomwhacker-like sound, which really set up the trance-like atmosphere and allowed for other sounds to rise out of them in an unsuspecting way. This lead to a lot of wonderful development and great through composed form. There were a lot of loops used in the more distinctive layers in the texture. Depending on what instrument was actually there it came to be either completely relaxing, like the piano or single synth tone, or a little too long and overdone, like the vocals in “Human Range” or the active and overwhelming percussive synth in “Kaleidoscope”, which was due to the inherent lack of awe in those timbres themselves, being quite plain and recognizable. Everything was still wonderfully placed and exceptionally built. As far as melodic organization goes, the loops were are well thought out and had strength to their shape all while not pulling focus from the direction of the sound. This meant that every repetition had purpose; nothing was obnoxious or unwanted despite the lengthy passages of overall sameness. Now, even with the nice melodic motives in each song, they were nothing more than ornaments atop the mesmerizing sound. Again, while being pleasant, they had no sustainable gravity of their own to really impact the music on an important level, since the music was really all about the texture. Frahm is obviously an experienced, intelligent musician as evidenced by the exceptional sonic organization and well-developed songs on this album, but one can never be too delicate in this ambient realm. There were a few moments where harmonic motion either stalled without providing a solid and useful pedal tone, or had an overly distinctive pattern that didn’t quite match the mystery and direction of the sound. What the harmony did do well most of the time was stay out of the way and let the melodic motive dictate the underground support. It’s very difficult for everything to click and work as a single body when the timbre is so overwhelmingly important and decisive, but Frahm does quite a good job overall. I normally don’t think this style works very well in the form of an album, but the connectivity and amount of strong small developments within one big, overarching 75-minute shape really came across well. This album has the power to calm you and clear your mind if you let it.

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