Audio Mixer: Nils Frahm.
Recording information: 2007-2015.
German improvisational group Nonkeen's early-2016 debut, The Gamble, was the product of several years' worth of homegrown experimentation from three childhood friends (namely Nils Frahm, Frederic Gmeiner, and Sebastian Singwald). After accumulating numerous tracks recorded during informal sessions over the course of nearly a decade, the band had several albums' worth of material ready to release. They assembled two albums and flipped a coin to decide which one to put out first. The Gamble just happened to be the one that won the coin toss. Oddments of the Gamble, released half a year later, may be more of the same, but there isn't any drop-off in its quality level. The album might actually have a better flow than its sibling. As with The Gamble, this one is a collage-like mixture of warm keyboards, sharp yet loose-limbed drumming, and various types of echo and delay effects. It often recalls the exuberant studio experiments of Krautrock groups like Can and Faust, as well as the '90s post-rock groups that carried on in that spirit. The music has a jazzy quality, but there's no soloing of any kind. The musicians often lock into rhythms and let everything swirl around and flow smoothly. Much of the album sounds casual and relaxed, but there are more urgent, uptempo selections like the rippling "Glow" and the crashing echo-chamber haze of "Obviously Algebra." Several shorter, fragmentary cuts provide glimpses of indescribable studio happenings that can't be replicated. Titles like "Copy of Crazy" and "The Monkey in the Machine" hint at the playful, slightly chaotic nature of these sessions. ~ Paul Simpson