Wintermusik might have languished in obscurity as well, if not for Monique at Sonic Pieces, who happened upon the disk, fell in love with it and signed the artist for this limited release of 333. The handmade book binding is stark gray, but elegant, and suits the project well; Wintermusik was initially recorded as a Christmas present for family and friends. This puts the disk in the company of Sufjan Stevens' Songs for Christmas, recorded as a series of personal gifts over the years and finally packaged a few years later as a boxed set for fans. There’s certainly a light-hearted, holiday feeling to the music, especially when the bells join the proceedings; one thinks of happy carolers, wandering from house to starlit house as flurries dust their woolen caps. But this is not to say that one should avoid the disk simply because Christmas is half a year away; nor should one feel that the sounds herein represent any specific religion or creed. This is simply a disk of engaging, well-played music, suffused with a positive vibe.
Unlike the songs on the upcoming The Bells (which began as Tonaglia: Piano Improvisations), the three pieces on Wintermusik are fully-fledged compositions, a combination of – you guessed it – piano, celeste and reed organ. The opening track, “Ambre,” is the shortest, a single-length introduction to the album, sedate and unadorned. At 17:25, “Tristana” is a much more complex entity, featuring all three instruments. On this piece, Frahm wanders from his default timbre of airy and bright. When the darker tones (perhaps foot pedals) enter, they occupy the same space that a bass guitar would inhabit in a post-rock setting. The piece may unfold at an unhurried pace, but is constantly mutating and always has a sense of destination. Certain themes end up repeating, or returning in a slightly altered fashion. There’s an enormously-subtle buildup to the conclusion, but it’s there – an example that bombast-oriented groups might wisely imitate. Finally, “Nue” closes the half-hour album (strangely, around the same length as Broderick’s Music for Falling from Trees). This piece is busier and sprightlier: upbeat, hopeful, and more overtly melodic than the preceding tracks. There’s even a chorus of sorts, one that might make for a suitable Charlie Brown theme; and the final two minutes possess a muted, yet climactic tone.