Home / News / Watch Max Ritcher perform previously unreleased recording ‘A Catalogue Of Afternoons’

Watch Max Ritcher perform previously unreleased recording ‘A Catalogue Of Afternoons’

This Spring/Summer Deutsche Grammophon present expanded new editions of ‘The Blue Notebooks’ by Max Richter, which are released in celebration of its 15th anniversary and will be available in multiple formats, including Super Deluxe.

Watch here

Originally written in 2003 and remarkably recorded in just three hours ‘The Blue Notebooks’ was released in 2004 to minimal fanfare. Since then the world has caught up, with the album steadily growing from cult classic, to trend-setting influencer, to cannon-defining masterpiece that’s paved the way for a generation of successful young composers.

What this deeply rewarding album has to offer has steadily spread to the consciousness and hearts of many, having gained millions of plays on Spotify plus inclusion in multiple adverts, TV programmes and films.

Although commonplace now, when Richter made ‘The Blue Notebooks’, he was one of the first to combine classical and electronic elements with a post rock sensibility –  something which was radical at the time.

These new editions include remixes from Konx-Om-Pax and Jlin  both of which offer a fascinating cultural exchange, showing how Max’s music and mindset crosses boundaries, making cohesive connections that might not initially be apparent.

Other new features include brand new artwork, a previously unreleased track and new arrangements of compositions written at the same time as the album, but debuting on tape earlier this year at Air studios. The Super Deluxe Edition also features a brand new track called ‘Cypher’.

On recording and re-arranging the previously unreleased material, Max explains “we’ve revisited a kind of hinterland to that record; these pieces form the background, almost like a reservoir that fed into the making of the record, but which didn’t actually make the finished article.

The bonus material matches the main album in quality and ability to evoke, and whether heard in its original or expanded incarnations, it makes for a record of simple, plaintive beauty, where rich organic strings meet gauzy, low fi electronics. Sense-stimulating textures, foley-style found sounds and the ASMR-like detailed capture of actress Tilda Swinton’s renditions create a deeply effective ambience.

Conceptually ‘The Blue Notebooks’ was carefully conceived as “a meditation on violence and its repercussions, inspired both by the Iraq war – which was looming – and my own experiences”, recalls Max. But although inspired by Bob Dylan, Woodie Guthrie and the original punk movement, his was a different kind of dissent.

“I wanted to invite the listener in, allowing them space to reflect, rather than be beaten into submission. The world is tough enough, and I don’t want to add to the brutality. Over the years, I’ve realised that there’s a balance to strike, and that actually, as our world spins into something quite threatening that’s increasingly based on loud and vicious rhetoric, I want to talk about quiet protest.”

The album is also intimately personal and Richter recalls that, “as a very sensitive child, I reacted to the violence around me by internalizing everything. My only refuge was music, and I totally disappeared into the internal landscapes it opened up to me.”

Indeed, an air of nostalgia permeates The Blue Notebooks, something acknowledged in the texts Richter selected for Swinton’s crucial monologues. “Everyone carries a room about inside him”, she begins, the words taken from Franz Kafka’s ‘Blue Octavo Notebooks’ – whose title Richter adapted for his suite – and later she recites Polish poet Czesław Miłosz’s ‘Hymn of the Pearl‘ and ‘Unattainable Earth‘blurring past and present in vivid fashion: “I was here when she, with whom I walk, wasn’t born yet.”

“I chose the texts”, Richter says, “to reflect on my sense of the politics of the time. Facts were beginning to be replaced by subjective assertions in the build-up to the war, which seemed to be viewed as inevitable and justified in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. Kafka’s use of the absurd to investigate power structures struck me as highly relevant. He is, of course, the patron saint of doubt, and doubt – about politics, and the way society was heading – was what I was looking to express. The texts were specifically picked because they refer to childhood, or the passing of time, when everything around is failing.”

As he points out, this is something buried in The Blue Notebooks’ very architecture. “‘On The Nature Of Daylight’ uses a palindromic structure, so the present and the past coexist.” This track has since become the album’s most prominent and best-known, most notably due to its pivotal inclusion in Denis Villeneuve’s award-winning winning film ‘Arrival’, whose palindromic narrative, ideas on non-linear time and blurred visions of experiences, matched Max’s music perfectly.

The appeal and wide-reaching influence of ‘On The Nature Of Daylight’ is evident in the high number of films and TV programmes it has featured in, which includes Martin Scorsese’s ‘Shutter Island’, Anne Fontaine’s ‘The Innocents’, Michael Winterbottom’s ‘The Face of an Angel’, Henry Alex Rubin’s ‘Disconnect’ and Marc Forster’s ‘Stranger Than Fiction’.

And so here we are, rightfully revisiting this classic album’s past and its rightful place in the present. Politically things are not only similar, but worse. Musically some of it’s the same but now experienced in a different light, judged under different critical circumstances, while other parts are new or have been changed. ‘The Blue Notebooks’ embodies a morphing cycle of observation and experience – and is the true definition of timeless.

Track listings

2 CD edition / double eAlbum edition / 2 LP black vinyl edition:

CD 1 / vinyl disc 1

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’

CD 2 / vinyl disc 2

1. ‘A Catalogue Of Afternoons’ (previously unreleased recording)

2. ‘On The Nature Of Daylight’ (Orchestral Version)

3. ‘Vladimir’s Blues 2018’ (new arrangement, recorded at Air Studios, 2018)

4. ‘On The Nature Of Daylight (Entropy)’ (new arrangement, recorded at Air Studios, 2018)

5. ‘Vladimir’s Blues’ (Jlin Remix)

6. ‘Iconography’ (Konx-Om-Pax Remix)

7. ‘This Bitter Earth’ / ‘On The Nature Of Daylight’

Super Deluxe Edition:

CD 1

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’

CD 2

1. ‘A Catalogue Of Afternoons’ (previously unreleased recording)

2. ‘On The Nature Of Daylight’ (Orchestral Version)

3. ‘Vladimir’s Blues 2018’ (new arrangement, recorded at Air Studios, 2018)

4. ‘On The Nature Of Daylight (Entropy)’ (new arrangement, recorded at Air Studios, 2018)

5. ‘Vladimir’s Blues’ (Jlin Remix)

6. ‘Iconography’ (Konx-Om-Pax Remix)

7. ‘This Bitter Earth’ / ‘On The Nature Of Daylight’

8. ‘Cypher’ (brand new track, recorded at Air Studios, 2018)

Events

11th – 14th May 2018 – London, The Barbican

‘Sounds and Visions: A weekend curated by Max Richter ‘and Yulia Mahr’

4th June 2018 – Berlin, Berliner Philharmonie

5th June 2018 – Frankfurt, Alte Oper

6th June 2017 – Bremen, Die Glocke

8th June 2018 – Düsseldorf, Heinersdorff Konzerte

9th June 2018 – Hamburg, Elbphilharmonie

Tickets and info at www.maxrichtermusic.com

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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