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Baker's Dozen

Beloved Transmissions: Mary Anne Hobbs' Favourite Albums
Daniel Dylan Wray , May 22nd, 2017 08:14

Ahead of her curation at the Manchester International Festival, Mary Anne Hobbs guides Daniel Dylan Wray on an inspiring trip through 13 records that shaped her life


Nils Frahm - Spaces
This is a record that changed my adult life. I'd heard one track by Nils, which was this very elegant, very minimal piano track called 'You' which I absolutely adored and I made it record of the week on the programme. I got in touch with the label and asked if there was anything else from Nils Frahm on the horizon and they explained they had Spaces on the way and would send it so I could have a track to play exclusively on the show. The record arrived and 'Says' is on that record, which is quite possibly my favourite piece of music of all time as a standalone single track. I feel like he changed my life and I changed his in a smaller way. He opened a doorway for me into a world of classical music, a world that I hadn't explored in any way shape or form before that point.

There's something about the dramatic structure of 'Says', it unravels from the tiniest, tiniest sounds and builds really slowly over the course and in the last fifty seconds Nils introduces a secondary piano part to build it to an absolute climax and then you get a drop to black at the end that is like dropping off the end of a cliff and then the applause, as the album was recorded live. Structurally it's the most beautiful arc of any piece of music I've ever heard. I feel like what he does emotively in that framework, he has captured the very complex textures of what love could be, not necessarily what it is but what it could be, as it builds. It's a tune that I played to one of my bosses at the BBC and I gave him very specific instructions, I said, "you must give this track 8 mins 8 secs of your undivided attention and you must listen on headphones and then I want ten minutes of your time because I want to sell the idea to you of creating a BBC prom with Nils Frahm". He did exactly what I asked of him and within ten minutes I'd got the prom commissioned. He's one of the most important artists in the world right now because he's changing perceptions of what music can be and where music can go and I'm so elated that we had that opportunity to put that music on the platform that we did at the prom.