Across Nils Frahm’s dozens of albums, collaborations and soundtracks, there’s often a high concept uniting them all. On “Felt,” the Berlin-based composer, pianist and producer attached felt to the strings of his piano; on “Screws,” he performed with just nine fingers because there were four screws in his broken thumb.
True to its title, Frahm’s latest album, “All Melody,” is his most deceptively high-concept yet: He wanted to hear what melodies would sound like in his expansive new studio at Berlin’s legendary Funkhaus. “I wanted to hear choir, I wanted to hear trumpet, I wanted to hear cello,” he says. But along the way, the project became something different. “In the end, I treated them in the way I treat my synthesizer.”
That meant reducing whole sessions to snippets — 2 to 4 percent of what had been recorded. “I was waiting for these magical moments, and I’m pretty critical with that,” he says. “I wanted to only pick the parts that were special.” The results are, at times, delicate and intimate; at others, baroque and overwhelming. Frahm bridges the mythical Bifröst from neoclassical composition to minimal techno grooves, finding magic with a choir’s wordless chant, precise percussion or spare piano pieces in which the listener can hear the mechanics of performance in virtually three-dimensional detail.
Those details come alive in concert as Frahm interprets the album, trying to re-create what worked in the last performance while incorporating new ideas, a tour-long process that he compares to opening a bottle of wine. “When you open it too early, it doesn’t taste good, and if you open too late, it doesn’t taste good either,” he says. Here’s hoping his concert at the 9:30 Club is during the part of the tour when “everything is in full blossom.”
Show: March 16 at 8 p.m. (doors) at the 9:30 Club. 202-265-0930. $25.