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Max Richter From SLEEP Deutsche Grammophon


There can’t be many people whose output piques the interest of both Gramophone and Crack magazine readers alike. Ever since the neo-classical melancholia of second solo effort The Blue Notebooks back in 2004, Max Richter has operated within a kind of Venn diagram space between alternative popular music and the avant-garde. Part of that has been down to the powerful immediacy of his melodies: whether making film soundtracks or releasing his own records, Richter’s music has invariably conveyed an emotional resonance capable of reaching just about anyone.

Yet the vast majority of new composition SLEEP will probably reach nobody at all, at least not consciously. The full work lasts eight hours and as Richter says, functions as “a personal lullaby for a frenetic world.” He’s not kidding either: the audience for the world premiere in Berlin are to literally be given beds instead of seats. Helpfully Richter is also releasing From SLEEP, a seven-song, hour-long sampler in conventional album format. Sure enough, these are lush, glacially-paced movements that continually glide in and out of focus like fragments of half- remembered dreams.

The aptly-titled Dream 3, Dream 8 and Dream 13 form the spine of the album and sound exactly as you would imagine; all delicate piano and ponder-
ous violin. Interspersed between those are snippets from two other pieces: Path and Space. The claustrophobia of the latter makes for the most arresting listening on the album but also the most unsettling, which sort of defeats the purpose here and signposts the obvious challenge with From SLEEP: as an album this doesn’t do enough to hold the attention or serve its conceptual purpose. Everybody needs a full eight hours of SLEEP.