Max Richter
The Blue Notebooks


5.0
classic

Review

by Jared P. STAFF
August 12th, 2010 | 30 replies


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Long drives into the night, heavy thoughts weighing on your mind, and The Blue Notebooks playing in the background.

I could finish this review in a sentence, writing out why The Blue Notebooks is a classic in nine or so words, or thereabouts – at least in the context of its sound, perhaps. Or I could also turn this write-up into a written illustration of the picture of a quiet winter's snow that Max Richter instills in mind with his sophomore 2004 album, a personal picture limited to my experience with The Blue Notebooks, true, but one that might at least lure you into diving into its surreal atmosphere for yourselves to experience something like mine, maybe. Well, I could, anyway.

But in those instances, I think I would be selling you, as well as The Blue Notebooks, up short. As you’ve known the album for as long as I have – for almost a whole year, which isn't too long – you begin to understand that The Blue Notebooks is more than the sum of its individual piano, strings, and electronic parts, yet while still remaining beautiful on individual track inspections, certainly. Like, I mean, fully understand this: It’s an album, in the strictest sense, arriving together, leaving together, and affecting you, its patient, all at once, well, together. You see, The Blue Notebooks, as a modern classical album, is perfect in its set role.

I'm its patient, you say" Yes, The Blue Notebooks is very therapeutic and healing, soothing you in the midst of stress, or relaxing you into sleep during a long night filled with tension and little rest. Essentially, a rainy day album: resolute, melancholic, and oh so beautiful, aiding or instilling a mood of calm tranquility through the air in which it plays. I’m not sure I know of many instances that send chills up my spine as that of the poignant piano chords on “Horizon Variations”, or the feeling of closure that arrives with “Vladimir's Blues”, as if echoing from the past Ludovico Einaudi’s “Fly” to be released three years into the future, but moments like this abound.

The Blue Notebooks just does these things, without complaint or error. And like the classic that it is, its experience as an album, that overall Jesus-warmth that I feel when I hear it, never dwindles, if only gaining strength and becoming more profound with time as I, not it, age. The lines recited by female actress Tilda Swinton sparsely throughout its length, taken from Franz Kafka's "The Blue Octavo Notebooks" and Czesław Miłosz's "Hymn of the Pearl" and "Unattainable Earth", strike a perfect balance between ambiguous and precise narration, voicing key phrases to sync you back into the experience, reminding you of your past visits to The Blue Notebooks’ sonic residence of Library-enforced quiet and peace. It seems like it would be flaunty and overornate, but it’s not. No, it’s not.

Like, that may be the key to appreciating The Blue Notebooks: That realization that the album is not something that it isn’t, that it’s not trying to trick you. Richter’s ability to wield his electronic pools, heavenly string beds, and nostalgic piano chords has never been applied so correctly, nay perfectly than on this 2004 release. Where his debut Memoryhouse was grandiose, comparatively, The Blue Notebooks is minimal, putting a pause on surrounding chaos so that it may play out its contents as if uninterrupted. I wish that I could fully describe the feeling that it brings, the album’s voice, but it’s something that you must feel and hear for yourself. You see, The Blue Notebooks is just a calm that cannot be fully expressed with words, without inevitably selling it up short.



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user ratings (265)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
Matt Wolfe EMERITUS (4.5)
One of the best neoclassical albums of the 21st century....

robertsona STAFF (4.5)
...

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Comments:Add a Comment 
vanderb0b
August 12th 2010


3473 Comments


Awesome review. I'll probably check this out, sounds interesting.

IAJP
August 12th 2010


378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

album is amazing. good job.

Observer
Staff Reviewer
August 12th 2010


6819 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks, like it's really an album that describing the individual parts won't do much for the reader, I think. I tried to get the overall feel, but yeah vanderbob, you need to check this out. Perfect chill, thinking, reading, or late-night driving album.

Digging: Belle and Sebastian - The Boy With the Arab Strap

IAJP
August 12th 2010


378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

good call on 'late-night'. dont think that is something that can be deliberately implemented in music or an album, but when it happens it is a truly beautiful thing.

Romulus
August 12th 2010


8522 Comments


Excellent review. I feel like you've reviewed him several times and every single time I say I'll check it out so this time I'll try to follow through on it.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
August 12th 2010


8322 Comments


i listened to this after your recommendation Observer, during the the commenting for the Infra review.

Indeed this is good.

Digging: Minuit Machine - Infrarouge

Metalstyles
Emeritus
August 12th 2010


8574 Comments


Great review Jared, you made me quite interested in the album. I might even check it out at some point, when I'm done catching up on all the stuff I've missed during July/August

liledman
August 12th 2010


3828 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

gooood stuff

robin
Emeritus
August 12th 2010


4566 Comments


something we agree on =)

p.s. i love reading these

sspedding
August 12th 2010


5242 Comments


SEE YOU AT THE PARTY RICHTER!

Observer
Staff Reviewer
August 12th 2010


6819 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks robin and magnus



idk if it's your thing, styles, but this kind of thing does seem to appeal to listeners who prefer several different genres, so maybe

AggravatedYeti
August 12th 2010


7683 Comments


gonna go find all of this now.
been meaning too and well after this revue right here...

vanderb0b
August 12th 2010


3473 Comments


Listened to Vladimir's Blues, along with some other stuff. I'll definitely get this.

FelixCulpa
August 12th 2010


1243 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Really a great album. Good job observer, posd.

My favorite track is defiantly Shadow Journal.



Btw does anyone know exactly what the photo is of on the album cover? I mean I can see that there a bush and either a beach or a wall as the background and if you look close there's also a shadow of what look to be a bird (in the lower right corner) if you tilt you head a bit, but idk for sure.

EVedder27
August 12th 2010


6088 Comments


Excellent review. I feel like you've reviewed him several times and every single time I say I'll check it out so this time I'll try to follow through on it.

Was pretty much what I was going to say


Observer
Staff Reviewer
August 12th 2010


6819 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah, i reviewed his new album recently, infra, which is along the same lines as this except not quite as good. Cheers

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
August 12th 2010


16972 Comments


I WAS GOING TO REVIEW THIS I WAS GOING TO REVIEW THIS I WAS GOING TO REVIEW THIS I WAS GOING TO REVIEW THIS I WAS GOING TO REVIEW THIS

i mean i still can but

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
August 12th 2010


16972 Comments


"Jesus-warmth"

also i have a slightly different take on it than you so WATCH OUT HERE I COME

Electric City
Emeritus
August 12th 2010


15762 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

guys who are like oh i should check out max ricther need to click this link



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rluU6BGpKw

Observer
Staff Reviewer
August 12th 2010


6819 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@robertsona, go for it, pretty sure you'd nail this kind of thing



4, I'm guessing?



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