Max Richter: From Sleep
Max Richter is either the sharpest space cadet in Classical, or the most well-traveled sleepwalker in Ambient. His work Sleep is an 8 hour 24 minute adagio meant to lull listeners into the warm glow of slumber. This full-on version of Sleep may register as an epic of contemporary instrumental music, but the most significant parts of this experience will happen within the mind of the listener. While most music is vague in purpose (a distraction from, rather than an engagement with, our inner lives), Sleep is meant to open up a significant span of time where nothing is asked of the participant – nothing more than to reflect and experience the stimulating calm that this music has the potential to bring. If Sleep is to be heard while sleeping, then the album From Sleep (59’58”) is meant to be engaged and actively listened to – as best as one can. Featuring piano, organ and synthesizer tones by Richter, and the ACME string ensemble, From Sleep sustains an effective atmosphere of dreamy, drifty, restorative and altogether lovely meditations. The deep background of each composition produces sustaining virtuous chords, with the foreground commanded by a lilting forthright melody – and its recurring dream-like effect. In choosing the seven tracks for From Sleep, Richter provides us with one from each different texture and mood. From a stylish minimalism of tear soaked piano and violin, to brooding Spacemusic apparitions, and consoling child vocals, the music touches us – captivating our minds, and possibly penetrating our dream lives. From Sleep both belongs to and transcends its era. In no hurry to deliver his message, Richter is a comfort to his listeners. Yet, while serving us, we can imagine that he too may be using this music to search for something deeper within his own self.