In 2012, ground-breaking pianist Nils Frahm released Screws as he continued his recovery from an accident that had left him with a broken thumb. Nils made the album available as a free download, and fans thanked him by sending him their own reworked interpretations. Nils publicly asked his fans to submit their tracks to a special website where they were all collected (screws.nilsfrahm.com). Three years on, Screws Reworked is a very special collection, entirely made by his fans and chosen by Nils. As well as being a celebration of artistic contribution, it also comes with the original recording, making it yet another essential release from Erased Tapes.
The reworks appropriately start off with the track ‘You’, where calm, dusty beats and a suppressed piano play around. Sure, when you place them side by side, the original and the rework share a couple of the same notes, but apart from that there aren’t any real similarities. They’ve been spliced and reinterpreted. Bug Lover’s take on ‘You’ is deep. Clicking beats and a little, separated series of notes provide a deeply textured listen that radiates warmth. A note slides around on the outskirts while others skate down the main road. Refreshingly, it doesn’t sound anything like the original.
The light, skittish beats of ‘Do’ support the piano instead of suppressing or drowning it, adding its unique fingerprints to the music. It’s as delicate as the wings of a butterfly. Some are more electronically-minded, while ‘Re’, remixed by Helios, retains a cosy, ambient warmth, and much of that is down to the low, heavy bass that shrouds the music in a warm December layer. Still, it’s interesting to see just how many of the tracks have substantial rhythms. The original strayed away from any kind of electronic beat; it was beautifully stripped back. Despite that approach, Nils can and frequently does inject a fair amount of electronica (sometimes experimental in content) into his music. That’s reflected in Screws Reworked and in the submissions that successfully made it, but crucially the intensely warm tone of the original recording lingers on. It’s never sacrificed. It’s here to stay.
Among the contributors are Bug Lover, Soul Channel, Helios and Ruhe, and each one is as different as the last. Remixes they are not – they’re more like reinterpretations. Only a tiny molecule of original DNA survives, coated in a chorus of amber, which is exactly what makes a good reinterpretation. It is as much the music of the re-worker as it is the original artist, the two coagulating and forming something musically different. The remix of ‘La’ by Sebastian Freij introduces a lovely cello line alongside the original piano recording that eventually takes root in the soil, growing all the while, providing a little shaded canopy as it hovers over the piano.
It’s released on December 11th on Erased Tapes Records.