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Max Richter - The Blue Notebooks

  by Maarten Schiethart

published: 19 / 2 / 2004

Max Richter - The Blue Notebooks
Label: Fat Cat Records
Format: CD


Spellbindingsoundtrack for as-yet-unreleased film about Frank Kafka from former Future Sound of London star, Max Richter, which has been released on 130701, an offshoot of the Fat Cat label

'The Blue Notebooks' is co-produced by the BBC and that's where all relevant information leaves me stupid. There are no other credits for the movie on this second solo album and dashing collection of tracks from Max Richter who, in the world of popmusic, has earned a bit of reputation for himself with the Future Sound Of London and, from before that , in his 10 year stint in Piano Circus.   Actress Tilda Swinton opens the album by reading the opening lines from 'The Blue Octavo Notebooks' by Franz Kafka. One of Kafka's less popular books, it features snippets exemplary of the alienation that he would become the protagonist for, after his earthly life (1883-1924) had ended. Accordingly, Max Richter pays a little homage to Kafka's contemporary Eric Satie and charmingly rips off a theme from Satie's 'Les Trois Gymnopédies'.   Kafka was both a reclusive mind and a worried observer with an eye for the process of control. Max Richter most certainly isn't tthough an odd choice to compose this soundtrack. 'The Blue Notebooks' modestly but persistently goes round in circles and each track is built from a Max Richter piano theme that could be a Kafka short story in itself.   The term 'cinematic' is often misused, but the description stands true to Max Richter's soundtrack for 'The Blue Notebooks'. Indeed it does envision a film. The orchestrated kammerspiel is the natural culmination of early twentieth century minimalism and today's elektronic cascade for sound and narrative. Both the players; Louisa Fuller, Natalia Bonner on violin, John Metcalfe on Viola and Philip Shepard plus Chris Worsey on cello, as well as Max Richter catchs very well the narrowing prospects of man-made machineries and bureaucracies. Therefore the romantism in the album features the fatal but ever-exciting beauty of urban tension from the 1910-1920 era.   As it's not yet been shown to the public at large, Fat Cat Records' offshoot 130701 release of 'The Blue Notebooks' winds up as being pretty special. 'The Blue Notebooks'' has a similar quality to Michael Nyman's score for 'Drowning By Numbers', and implies that a masterpiece could be in the can. And I'd be darned if a single moment in 'The Blue Notebooks' ever leaves you without the spell and magic this forty minute soundtrack had to offer to me. It may even appeal to those who feel anything non testerone is just noodlings.  

Track Listing:-
1 The Blue Notebooks
2 On The Nature Of Daylight
3 Horizon Variations
4 Shadow Journal
5 Iconography
6 Vladimir's Blues
7 Arboretum
8 Old Song
9 Organum
10 The Trees
11 Written On The Sky

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