Nils shares an expansive new album, Music For Animals, his first fresh studio material since 2018’s ‘All Melody’ and 2019’s associated ‘All Encores’. Containing ten tracks and clocking in at over three hours long, it’s an ambitious and compelling set different to anything he’s released to date – in fact, it finds the Piano Day founder declining to use a piano – but at the same time retains many of the qualities that have set the influential musician’s work apart over much of the last two decades.
Unfolding at an unhurried, meditative pace in a celebration of tone, timbre and texture – and thus of sound itself – Music For Animals offers an unusually immersive experience. “My constant inspiration,” Nils explains, “was something as mesmerising as watching a great waterfall or the leaves on a tree in a storm. It’s good we have symphonies and music where there’s a development, but a waterfall doesn’t need an Act 1, 2, 3, then an outcome, and nor do the leaves on a tree in a storm. Some people like watching the leaves rustle and the branches move. This record is for them”.
As a title, Music For Animals is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the conceptual albums of the 1950s – like Raymond Scott’s ‘Music For Babies’ – as well as to contemporary playlist habits. “I feel a certain frustration with the functional use of music these days, all these playlists with names like Music for Sleeping, Music for Focus, Music for Masturbation,” Nils laughs. “Music always seems to need to do something useful. That’s a very client-driven logic: the client needs something, the music should deliver that, otherwise ‘You’re Fired!’ With this album, there was no specific audience in mind, and nor was it adapted to any particular purpose. But in fact, it seemed to please the animals I’ve spent a lot of time with these last months, so, you know: if you can’t beat them, join them…!”
At three hours long, Music For Animals might seem initially intimidating, but the truth is that this substantial collection encourages listeners to bask in its tranquility at their chosen depth, demanding only as much attention as they wish to contribute. As Nils himself happily points out, “It all comes back to that waterfall. If you want to watch it, watch it. If you don’t, then you don’t have to. It will always be the same, yet never quite the same.” Indeed, that’s Music For Animals’ greatest strength. Instantly recognisable, it’s still like nothing else.