If you weren’t already aware, Late Night Tales is the name of a series of mixes, put together by well-known artists, to be listened to in the wee small hours, preferably right before bed. Like most collections of this kind, they are like those compilation tapes or CD-Rs that your friends or loved ones used to pass down to you as a way of expressing what their music taste is to you in one small, easily consumed dose.
German composer and musician Nils Frahm is an ideal candidate for this series, having produced a dozen CDs of ambient and modern classical that fit well as a soundtrack to sleepytime. And on this collection, he proves to be an able DJ. The tracks flow together nicely and stitch a lovely sonic quilt to bed beneath. And it shows off the wide array of influences and interests that Frahm carries with him.
You get a taste of some musical styles that are easily associated with the artist, like the stray bits of Bach and Rimsky-Korsakov that buzz into the mix as well as some squelchy IDM from the likes of System and Dub Tractor. Helping to tie those together are the inclusion of excerpts from Miles Davis works and little off-the-wall touches like a chorus from a Gene Autry tune or a clattering instrumental by Colin Stetson.
That’s all material that works well but, like some mixtapes, seems aimed at proving Frahm’s breadth of musical knowledge. Where this CD really starts to take shape and fit the mood of the series is during the last third of the tracklisting that starts with a gentle lullaby from The Penguin Cafe Orchestra and lands softly with the hands of Frahm himself playing a solo piano version of his song “Them.” If you don’t find yourself nodding off or at least yawning pleasantly through it, you are obviously listening to this disc at the wrong time of the day.