Germany’s Niklas Nähring is back with a new, well-timed EP called Winter. He’s delivered five lovely downtempo tracks with unexpected beats and charming spoken word additions.
It’s good enough to be one of only a couple of December releases on my 100 favourites of 2018.
The young electronic music producer first caught my attention with last year’s Ideas and Fragments. I was surprised to learn that its title was a literal reference to the material. The album featured an impressive collection of pieces left over from previous projects.
Despite still being in his early 20s, Nähring has a discography that dates back to 2014. The work is gorgeously detailed.
Winter’s closer is a good example. “Depression” features a warble effect on one of the synth lines. It’s a studio trick we hear a lot these days, usually applied for purely aesthetic reasons. In this case though, it’s not just a nice-sounding treatment. It sounds like depression feels.
The track is just one example of Nähring’s sensitive, mindful approach to his work. “December,” the EP’s opener is another.
We start with a slightly distorted keyboard loop, which sets an easy pace for the track. But when the beat drops, it’s not the slick hip hop one-two-three we’ve come to expect from downtempo artists. Instead, Nähring employs a trudging, suitably pedestrian beat. It is of course exactly what walking in December is like (at least in the northern hemisphere).
I was so excited by Nähring’s work when I first heard it last year that I wondered how it could be that he continues to record “without the support of an international label.” That’s obviously not a knock on independently produced music – it’s an approach that’s obviously serving him well. But it does seem to me that with a decent promo budget, Nähring will earn a sizeable international audience.