Review Summary: Touching the phases of sleep
The music world boasts projects and artists who made it unique through numerous, almost essential, experimentations: peculiar sounds, personal use of instruments, and an obsessive research of sound and projects of valuable duration, able to resist in time. 'Duration', which becomes the subject of one of the last efforts of Max Richter, ''Sleep''. Paladin of the record company Deutsche Grammophone, and already popular for the realization of various soundtracks, here he wanted, in a way, to leave a kind of will for posterity. The release lasts about eight hours, and it is called ''Sleep'' due to an experiment that Richter wants to face, that is, to accompany the sleep phases with melodies, influencing the listener’s non-conscious state.The entire composition was performed on 27 September 2015, from midnight to 8:00 A.M. as the climax of the "Science and Music" weekend on BBC 3. The performance broke several records, including the longest live broadcast of a single musical composition in the history of the network. Instead of chairs to sit in and watch the performance, audience members were given beds to sleep in. Richter about release: “I think of it as a piece of protest music,” Richter has said. “It’s protest music against this sort of very super industrialized, intense, mechanized way of living right now. It’s a political work in that sense. It’s a call to arms to stop what we’re doing I think of one of the last Robert Rich's experiments, (one of the most important ambient artists), ''Perpetual: A Somnium Continuum'', with a similar length and the same pretentions to research. ''Sleep'' will be for most of the time, a passive listening, a companion, a guide capable of taking care of the listener, considering him as a tourist of the dreams. Since the beginning, I have considered this release over its musical meaning, like a kind of therapy, capable of creating clear and sobering images, ready to wait for us each time we dive into it. ''Sleep'' makes a symbolic use of the piano, not so original even though decisive. A hidden, gentle, velvety piano, which gently lies on our sensory apparatus, and not only on the surface. Every time I clicked on 'play' to plunge among the surreal and dreamlike waves, I’ve imagined sitting in an empty room, listening to an orchestra playing distant and invisible, a continuous acousmatic melody, which eases every kind of inner conflict. It goes from the cautious pianos of ''Dream 1 (Before the wind blows it all away)'', a perfect introduction, to hypnotic and seductive voices, capable to re-invoke the sirens' song, like in ''Path 3 (7676)'', and to tracks in which the violin and the piano are intertwined in such evocative and cathartic way like in ''Nor Earth, nor Boundless Sea''. The confrontational approach to the experiment reminds me the imaginative rain of William Basinski, with his monumental work 'Cascade', effective in freezing time, manipulating it, and making it endless. Since the eleventh track, it starts again with the same path, but with new, different variants. The unique experience while listening to this venture is unavoidable, that is to make him find the meaning in an unconscious phase, without trying to split it inside but enjoying it in its paradoxical completeness while sleeping.