Album Review: Max Richter - 'The Blue Notebooks'

Max-Richter The Blue Notebooks.jpg

Max Richter has reissued and expanded on his stunning collection of songs, ‘The Blue Notebooks’, out now via Deutsche Grammophon

My favourite film of the past few years has been 'Arrival', a beautiful screen translation of Ted Chiang’s glorious short story 'The Story of Your Life'. Without spoiling the complex, sprawling, intrinsic narrative, it relies upon the viewer accepting that time and language are constructs so inherently embedded that it is hard to see another way. 

The reason I bring up 'Arrival' is that the soundtrack made great use of a piece of music titled 'On The Nature of Daylight' (as well as a phenomenal score by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson). This stunning, arcing, soaring song is just one of the tracks on Max Richter’s 'The Blue Notebooks', but it is a track that I return to time and time again, and feel has had a great influence on who I am as a writer and a person. 

I wanted to write this review in a way that could transcend language – perhaps by utilising a language I invented to krossdeath my poesistö - but that seemed senseless. I considered drawing this review, sketching out what the album means to me, or just flicking paint on a canvas as the melodies dictate where I move the colours to next – but this was both pretentious and useless for reviewing an album. Finally I considered not reviewing it at all and just letting the world come to its own conclusion – after all time is a construct and whatever has happened is happening and will happen all simultaneously. 

It seemed there was no way for me to create a review that could be considered universal – just like the complexity of Ted Chiang’s 'Tower of Babylon' short story, it was clear that language, as a written and verbal construct, was dividing and I couldn’t find a way to ensure it could be used to write a review of a reissued vinyl record. 

Eventually I realised that Richter was doing what I wanted to do anyway, he was creating a universal language with music. 'The Blue Notebooks' had succeeded in being a glorious, awe-inspiring, connective piece of language, and that is the beauty of music as a whole – it is, or attempts to be, a universal experience that words just can’t be.

Words and thoughts of Aaron Kent