Title - 'The Blue Notebooks: Super Deluxe Edition'
Artist - Max Richter
For those not in the know, Max Richter is a West German-born British composer who has been an influential voice in post-minimalist composition and in the meeting of contemporary classical and alternative popular musical styles since the early 2000s.
Richter is classically trained, having graduated in composition from the Royal Academy of Music and studied with Luciano Berio in Italy.
Indeed, Richter is known for his prolific output: composing and recording his own music; writing for stage, opera, ballet and screen; producing and collaborating on the records of others; and collaborating with performance, installation and media artists. He has recorded eight solo albums and his music is widely used in cinema.
The Blue Notebooks was the second album by Richter, released on February 26th, 2004 via FatCat Records.
Just released this past May 11th, 2018, a two-disc version of The Blue Notebooks was lovingly reissued to commemorate its fifteenth anniversary. Including remixes by other artists, re-recordings, and two alternate arrangements of "On the Nature of Daylight," it also contains an exclusive brand new track "Cypher" and a paper notebook + extended booklet!
1. "The Blue Notebooks"
2. "On The Nature Of Daylight"
3. "Horizon Variations"
4. "Shadow Journal"
6. "Vladimir's Blues"
8. "Old Song:
10. "The Trees"
11. "Written On The Sky"
1. "A Catalogue Of Afternoons"
2. "On The Nature Of Daylight (Orchestral Version)"
3. Vladimir's Blues 2018"
4. "On The Nature Of Daylight (Entropy)"
5. "Vladimir's Blues (Jlin Remix)"
6. "Inconography (Konx-Om-Pax Remix)"
7. "This Bitter Earth / On The Nature Of Daylight"
Originally written in 2003 The Blue Notebooks is now a cult classic that’s paved the way for a generation of new artists combining classical and electronic elements with a post rock sensibility.
Conceptually, Richter himself has described the album as “a meditation on violence and its repercussions, inspired both by the Iraq war – which was looming – and my own experiences”.
The album is also intimately personal and Richter recalls that, “... as a very sensitive child, I reacted to the violence around me by internalizing everything. My only refuge was music, and I totally disappeared into the internal landscapes it opened up to me.”
Inclusive of feature readings from Franz Kafka's The Blue Octavo Notebooks and Czesław Miłosz's Hymn of the Pearl and Unattainable Earth (both read by the British actress Tilda Swinton), The Blue Notebooks is, without a shadow of a doubt, an attempt for music to comment on society and specifically it’s an anti-violence record.
Furthermore, the tracks "Shadow Journal" and "Organum" were included in the soundtrack of the animated documentary Waltz with Bashir (2008) and the illustrious, hauntingly beautiful "On the Nature of Daylight" has been extensively used in various cinema.
Indeed, it actually appeared in the 2006 Will Ferrell film Stranger than Fiction; Disconnect (2012), directed by Henry Alex Rubin; The Face of an Angel (2014), directed by Michael Winterbottom; The Innocents (2016), directed by Anne Fontaine, and in Arrival (2016), directed by Denis Villeneuve.
It is also used on the soundtrack of Martin Scorsese's 2010 film, Shutter Island, in its original form and remixed with Dinah Washington's vocals from her 1960 hit "This Bitter Earth".
Most of these pieces are two to six minutes long. If I have any (tiny) complaint to make, it's that some of the music is under-developed and I would have loved to hear Richter take some of his beautiful phrases in new directions instead of just repeating them eight or so times and ending them.
A majority of the music is comprised of a string quintet and piano, and it's that heart-wrenching work that really makes the album stand out. In fact, the second track, "On The Nature Of Daylight" might be the most moving on the disc (and in fact one of the more beautiful tracks that I've heard all year) as swells of strings ebb and flow while plaintive violin melodies weep.
"Iconography" sends a ghostly choir over almost exuberant organs while "The Trees" again brings back the string quintet alongside the piano for a lovely comedown.
While the album mainly moves with a melancholic air, it's far from being depressing. Sometimes fragile, and often beautiful, and now expanded The Blue Notebooks: Super Deluxe Edition is one of the more stunning pieces of music you will hear (again) this year.
In truth, there is absolutely no composed foot put wrong here, nor is anything contrived. In fact, not only is Richter's second album one of the finest of that year, but is also one of the most affecting and universal contemporary classical records in recent memory.
Official Purchase Link