Nonkeen’s “Diving Platform”

After a week-long absence, I’m going to start back up with a blissful instrumental enigma of jazzy haze and shimmery prog-rock ambiance. The track’s called “Diving Platform” and comes from German trio Nonkeen, who features renown pianist and composer Nils Frahm.

Nonkeen is known for being an improv trio, experimenting with free-form jazzy riffs of downtempo groove and mellow meander. “Diving Platform” is no different, floating on reverberating rolls of breezy percussion and lapping bass, complemented by a steady stream of swaying piano and pristine guitar that wavers and weaves through its wandering rhythm.

I’ve read that “Diving Platform,” along with the remaining material from their two albums, dates back to 20-something years ago, when Fraum, along with childhood friends Frederic Gmeiner and Sepp Singwald, were just starting out.

There’s a bit of tragic history in there, causing Nonkeen to take a 10 year break from ’97 to ’07. The story goes that a fairground carousel accident sent a couple of passengers crashing into their stage set-up. The trauma from the event sent the trio on their separate ways, each abandoning music for the interim.

An impromptu reunion in Berlin provoked a deep-dive into their prior work, leading to another decade of renewed collaboration, reworking, re-recording, and often improvising new over old. The outcome was two albums, “The Gamble” and “Oddments of the Gamble,” both released in 2016, yet born two decades earlier. “Diving Platform” hails from the latter.

I’m not sure how, or if, the accident or subsequent hiatus influenced their re-visitation of their work. I’d imagine it’d have some bearing. But “Diving Platform,” along with what I’ve gleaned from a cursory listen of “Oddments,” seems less interested in remembrances of a checkered past, and more directed towards the retro utopia of future tomorrows.

Check out Nonkeen’s laid-back optimism with their instrumental opus “Diving Platform.”

“Diving Platform” from the 2016 album “Oddments of the Gamble.”


Nils Fraum: