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
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.