Max Richter: SLEEP/from SLEEP (Deutsche Grammophon)
SLEEP – DL Only
from SLEEP – LP/CD/DL
Acclaimed composer Max Richter has created a work designed to send its listeners asleep with the aim of experimenting with our dreams and psyche. Simon Tucker gave the whole 8 hour long piece, and the abridged 1 hour long version, from SLEEP a listen. This is how it panned out.
Sleeping and dreams. The realm of the philosophers, scientists, and religious. A state of mind that has intrigued, baffled, and terrified many since we morphed from ape. What exactly goes on when our body shuts down is still being debated to this day. Sleep is the healer yet also the destroyer as it can be at once a vital recharge, giving ourselves time to reboot and re-hydrate the mind but it can also lead us down paths we do not wish to go, amplifying our inner most fears, releasing the bats from within. A good nights sleep can be as beneficial as medicine, a bad nights sleep can wipe away any positivity you may have had (just ask any new parents). You can yearn for sleep and get excited as the hour beckons or you can dread it, knowing that you are in store for hours of torturous visions that have been with you since childhood.
At 8 hours long, SLEEP has been created for the sole purpose to send the listener to sleep and for it to continue playing whilst you are under, guiding thoughts and supplying a narrative acting as a reassuring hand. It works! Listening to the piece as you drift away, you are given a sense of not joy but of a calmness that envelops you as you prepare to dig deep. Scored for strings, piano, electronics, and vocals (no words) the piece starts with a piano that slows the pulse, caressing the temples, slowing the breath. Every now and then you get a stringed instrument that could jolt you in lesser hands but with Richter you have a master composer who lets the instrumentation gently make an appearance, swelling up from below, the waves lapping at the shore in a clock-like tide. As mentioned before, vocals do appear but there are textural not point driven, harmony as lullaby, angelic but not off-putting, clear but not pure.
SLEEP is a devastating listen that many will not be able to get through (well that IS the intention after all) so Max has released an abridged version of which he states:
“You could say that the short one is meant to be listened to and the long one is meant to be heard while sleeping,”
This quote is very on-point as from SLEEP is the far more listener friendly as is a gorgeous listen at that where even though you are not getting the whole story, you are receiving enough of the plot points so you can enjoy with complete abandon.
A high benchmark in the, slowly becoming popular again, duration pieces, SLEEP, and its abridged version, is an experience like no other…….just like your dreams.