Max Richter's Infra

Symphonic Strings Meet Electronic Wizardry in the Sonic Maestro's Latest Album

“It’s an alchemy. You pour all these different things in and you wait for it to go boom. If it does, you get that magic moment, and then you think, 'wow.'” Max Richter’s modus operandi may sound somewhat mystical––accidental, even. But the Berlin-based composer has something of an intuitive knack for combining the most abstruse elements into melodic soundscapes of heartfelt immediacy and impact. A case in point is his 2004 album The Blue Notebooks, a classical-electronic concept album, featuring spoken word contributions from Academy Award-winning actress Tilda Swinton (reading excerpts from Kafka’s Blue Octavo Notebooks. Another is his heartbreaking soundtrack for Ari Folman’s Golden-Globe-winning 2008 movie Waltz With Bashir, in which he supplemented the traditional film orchestra with glassy, resonant synths and electronic effects. Richter’s latest record, Infra (Latin for “beneath the surface”), takes its name from the composer’s 2008 collaboration with London’s Royal Ballet, for which he worked with choreographer Wayne McGregor and artist Julian Opie to create a multimedia dance spectacular. In its performed version, Infra was only 25 minutes long, but the album sees Richter develop the project—swooning string quartets, reverberating pianos, analogue synthesizers, shortwave radios and static feedback—into an LP-length offering. “The music has changed a lot since the initial performance,” Richter admits. “I just started to record it and suddenly found different shapes and energies—we’re taking away the visuals so I needed to find a different way to tell the story.” To celebrate the release of the album from FatCat on July 19, we present “infra/ lullaby,” a track Richter (seen here photographed in his studio by Yulia Mahr) composed exclusively for NOWNESS, which takes yet another trip through the Infra landscape.
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