Nils Frahm, February 18, SEC Armadillo, Glasgow

Space is often an under appreciated, unnoticed quality in music. This is the space, not of the cosmos, but of the gaps between notes, the silences and delays; of saying less when it appears everyone is clamouring to say more.

Over nine solo albums, two soundtracks and a flurry of compilations, German composer Nils Frahm has built a reputation on restraint and control, of communicating emotions and character with an unshowy simplicity.

Though often referred to as “neoclassical” composer, he's more of a curious experimentalist who wants to convey the music in his head, even if that means meticulously arranging recording set-ups – even if that means tinkering away on inventing new instruments.

Attitudinally, he's closer to fellow countrymen Kraftwerk, an outfit so ahead of their time they developed their instruments with synthesizer manufacturer Dopfer. As a young schoolboy growing up near Hamburg, Frahm was already working with mixing boards while keeping up his classical piano practise. For eight years he studied piano under Nahum Brodsky, a former student of Tchaikovsky, but admits he would have struggled to be accepted as a student in a classical conservatoire.

It's not that he lacks talent, it's more his techniques are too unique, too individualistic. Rather than pursue a classical career, he moved to Berlin in the mid-2000s as a jobbing technician, work you can imagine interesting him far more.

“I don't want to compare myself to a genius like Thelonius Monk,” Frahm told The Quietus in 2013, “But if you asked him to play a classical sonata he'd probably fail terribly, because he couldn't read sheet music well. But what he did really well is play his own stuff. So what is a good pianist? Is a good pianist the one who plays in the hotel lobby, or is it somebody who expresses something that opens people's hearts?”

That's where Frahm's interest lies – in expression and communication. If his 2011 album Felt hadn't been the breakthrough success it was, he may have pursued his other passion for psychology. That curiosity about human behaviour and the effect of sound on emotion is what drives him most.

“I’m interested in how human beings react in certain situations, and what music does to people’s emotions,” he says. “After I’ve played a good concert, people leave the room happy. When people feel down and like it’s all going to sh*t, at least we can give them some music and change their attitude so people don’t think it’s all sh*t.”

These dates are part of Frahm's first tour since 2015, the year he launched Piano Day, an official global body celebrating the piano around the world. That year he also began deconstructing and rebuilding a studio in Berlin's historic Funkhausbuilding, a former GDR broadcast centre

built in the 1950s since developed with the help of acoustics experts into a top class recording campus.

Out of that time came last year's All Melody, Frahm's sublime seventh album in which all the sounds were generated by physical instruments, some of which were played by guests such as cellist Anne Muller and trumpeter Richard Koch. Vocals even make an appearance, thanks to London choral group Shards.

The time was so fruitful that two EPs soon followed, with the second, Encores 2 being released just a couple of weeks ago. It features Spells, a 12-minute cosmic odyssey recorded through an amplified stone Frahm found on Mallorca.

“The music I hear inside me will never end up on a record, as it seems I can only play it for myself,” he says. Hopefully, he will continue to try.

Nadine McBay