Max Richter – 24 Postcards in Full Colour

Max Richter
24 Postcards in Full Colour

German composer Max Richter’s latest album, 24 Postcards in Full Colour, was devised as a series of ringtones to be played during an art installation. Given that information it would make sense that none of the pieces lasts more than a minute and a half to two minutes. The album is comprised of vignettes that play more like introductions to songs rather than songs themselves. How enjoyable a listening experience it is depends entirely on the listener. Those with attention deficit disorder too severe to make it through most classical pieces might delight in the brevity. Others will most likely see Richter’s purposeful constraint to be counterproductive to his craft.

Because the nature of the album is such that it was made with the intention of each piece being digested separately it can be an affair with decidedly mixed results. As far as I can tell there isn’t a thematic link between tracks. Richter jumps from angelic string arrangements that bring to mind Arvo Pärt and Jóhann Jóhannsson to gorgeous Satie-esque piano compositions without transitions of any kind. The strangest thing on the album are the few Fennesz-lite tracks of processed guitar, which fail to capture the same sense of gravity lent to his other work.

24 Postcards is an interesting experiment even if it isn’t one you may return to very often. Max Richter’s works were already fairly on the short side to begin with. It isn’t as if he was taking a crack at a 30 minute opus on either of the previous albums. Most of the stuff here is absolutely beautiful but could stand to be fleshed out further or at the very least have a few of the motifs repeated a few more times. I guess we’ll have to be satisfied with hitting repeat. Fans of Richter’s work will probably want to check the album out. If you’re a newcomer I’d suggest starting elsewhere.