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4.0 out of 5 stars Max Richter- 24 Postcards in Full Colour LP Review (8/10), 6 July 2008
This review is from: Max Richter: 24 Postcards (Audio CD)
'24 Postcards in Full Colour' is the latest and most conceptually experimental release by Edinburgh-based pianist/composer Max Richter. Following on from the radiant and haunting electronica steeped neo-classical compositions of his previous three albums, '24 Postcards...' is a release that breaks down this much vaunted electro-acoustic formula into a varied collection of evocative miniatures, each offering a glimpse into potentially much larger pieces.

'24 Postcards....' is an attempt to explore the ringtone as a vehicle for musical performance and as such, the album contains 24 tracks ranging from 60 seconds to just under 3 minutes. Richter's intention is to premiere the work in various gallery spaces where pre-registered audience members receive SMS messages which results in the playing-back of one or more of the tracks. Indeed, this is an ambitious and cleverly thought-through affair that should be witnessed and must be applauded, but is it any good musically? Well, yes! Richter carves out simple yet evocative snippets of deliciously suggestive classical compositions which arc and gleam with a majestic quality. Similar, both in style and length to a score for a classy film like American Beauty, Richter utilises an orchestra of 9 and a limited palette of instrumentation that consists of string quintet; solo piano; 16 track 2 inch tape; transistors; found shortwave radio; vinyl clicks and acoustic guitars. From this, a clean and melodic sound is born, one that fully amplifies the resonant quality of the instrumental tones but complements it with a brooding and occasionally jilted industrial ambience.

Throughout, delicious liquid piano melodies bob hypnotically like distant waves and elongated strings echo with melancholy forlornness to create rich and harmonious textures that transport you to landscapes unknown yet never feared. The variation in '24 Postcards' has to be praised. The mournful strings making up `This Picture of Us' bob and sway with rich harmony and vivid texture, moving the listener closer to a parallel universe where dreams reign supreme. Further on, `A Sudden Manhattan of the Mind' comes across like a requiem to a cargo-ship lost at sea, the imaginary camera panning around in the murky, sub-aqua terrain to catch a glimpse of a rusting hull. Proceedings take a twist with `In Louiseville At 7', which echoes the works of Ninja Tune's electro-folk pioneer, Fog, thanks to its presentation of a cut-up background of vocals and shifting frequencies that grace a plaintive yet upbeat passage of meandering melody.

Sure the cut up nature of the album will put some off, and sure, the same tracks welded into a lengthy composition would have been more appetizing but somehow, the whole thing works. This is most probably down to the fact that compositions borne out of the same mold recur through-out the album creating a sense of déjà-vu as well as allowing the listener to chart some kind of linear progression. (KS)

For fans of: Alva Noto & Ryuchi Sakamoto
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