Somewhere in the world, at this very moment in time, there will be some musicians getting together, spontaneously singing and playing some rather magical music together. This music making is normally kept behind closed doors and not meant to be heard or seen. But, with the debut album from Oliveray we get a rare glimpse into a very private musical conversation with the otherworldly music of composers and performers Peter Broderick and Nils Frahm. The simple meaning behind the project name is the addition of their two middle names Peter Ray Broderick and Nils Oliver Frahm. This kind of simple and easy to see approach to naming their joint endeavours carries on throughout the project, but more of that in a moment.
To most, making music is a pretty elusive thing, but it seems to be something that comes to Peter and Nils pretty easily, or at least that is the impression I get from this (and from their own records). They create music out of nowhere, improvising, moulding and layering the music virtually from thin air. Each artist in their releases so far (please check out Nils Frahm "Felt" and Peter Broderick "Home") effortlessly straddle or defy many genre type-castings. Peter Broderick is a classic singer songwriter, violinist, pianist and composer. Nils Frahm is again a multi-instrumentalist and producer, but it's the piano which is his instrument (someone whose playing seems to be the result of feeding the entire ECM catalogue into a computer, which is no bad thing!).
Some of this album is made up of fragments (originally created to accompany a joint live tour of Japan). Some tracks feel finished and some feel yet to be finished or developed. Maybe these songs are waiting for their time to grow during their live performance. But, the joy of this album is a glimpse into a friendship built on mutual admiration. The album can be pretty much summed up in the overheard opening to the second track where Peter whispers to Nils 'feel free to do something in the beginning dude'.
So, what to expect? Well, some tracks on this album feel like instrumental duets such as opener Growing Waterwings with Nils' beautiful chocolate box piano playing and Peter Broderick's hesitant or fragile violin playing. Some tracks feel like experiments with Piano in the Pond they seem to have stepped from neo-classical to ambient music as waves of echo and reverb are pushed to the foreground. And, when a Hammond organ enters the track after a few minutes into the track I start to think more of Shuggie Otis or DJ Shadow; this is a sound that seems new to the universe of the two artists (the nearest is Nils' 7fingers project).
For me the real highlight though comes right in the middle, which would hint that Oliveray thought it was also something worth showcasing. A cover of Efterklang - Harmonic (from the Magic Chairs album) and they transform the original down to a simple duet again for Oliveray, with Peter singing and playing guitar and Nils on the piano. It shows you underneath all the bravado and technicolour of Efterklang's production there are these glistening pop melodies. I would go as far as saying it is possibly better than the original.
More experimentation continues in Hiding Hydiration where the music echoes Ry Cooder - Paris, Texas soundtrack or maybe the wide sounding dustbowl planes of Giant Sands and Harold Budd. The bones, which hold the album together, are the songs and rightly we finish with another fragile vocal from Peter Broderick in the closing track Dreamer. It feels and sounds like a heartfelt love song, it's the song of a travelling musician, someone searching for a perfect melody, a perfect sentiment or emotion. So, why not try the music of Oliveray? And get a glimpse into a private magical world of music. It's the start of a brilliantly evolving adventure to who knows where for Peter Broderick and Nils Frahm.