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Max Richter – Infra
16 July 2010, 12:00 Written by Gina Louise

Gone are the days where the classically trained were shunned from socialising in daylight hours, as we move into times where people with oversized glasses are queuing abreast those who actually need them to get there hands on Max Richter’s Infra. No longer do you need a bottle of vintage port and a gramophone to enjoy the ethereal sounds of neo-classicism, and Richter proves this better than most.

Infra is a delicate album originally composed as a score to accompany a ballet; yet with a history of creating soundtracks Richter’s album seems more befitting played alongside an epic science fiction movie or a dramatization of World War I. It is a haunting collection of piano and string led melodies, punctuated by intermittent static that sets tone and pace without detracting from the musical fluidity.

Its post apocalyptic intensity slowly and rather unexpectedly absorbed all my positivity and left me feeling intrinsically tainted. My habitual happy disposition was marred with an insurmountable guilt, and I was left doubting whether I would ever be happy again (well, for a good half hour at least). If I was in the apocalyptic film the album conjured in my mind, I would no doubt have been to blame for unwittingly condemning the entire human race to their untimely deaths.

Richter has an unequivocal ability to evoke irrational and disproportionately strong emotions with such simplicity and minimalistic composition. I resent him a little for placing ‘Infra 1’ at the beginning of the album, as it is the only track that appears to offer any hope in the bleak soundscape that is ‘Infra’. Throughout the album, just as you are lulled into security by the comforting repetition of Richter’s string choruses, static breaks in to remind you not to get too comfortable.

I suppose listening to this album is a little like reading Pandora’s Box backwards but snapping the book shut before the box closes, which takes the respite out of the racking guilt that opening it in the first place creates. Oh Max, if only you knew what you did to us mere mortals, maybe you’d think twice about creating such evocative music. But then again, I think perhaps he already knows…


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