British contemporary composer Max Richter has released his epic album ‘Sleep’ this month on Deutsche Grammophon, the album is a single piece of music spanning over the period of eight hours, a single continuous track which sections have been track listed. Richter states he is well aware that lengthy works have been composed before by the likes of Cage, Terry Riley, and LaMonte Young so this in itself is not ground breaking but it’s more the subject matter, that of sleep which is being explored here and of course if a piece of music is to accompany sleep as was its intention, it would of course be of considerable duration, put simply “It’s an eight-hour lullaby,” says Max Richter. Scored for piano, strings, electronics and vocals It’s a beautiful piece of music that surprised me as I was expecting a more ambient background piece, instead we are treated to whirls of atmospheric sweeping lows crossed over with intricate compositions that rise and fall throughout.
To accomplish more than just his interpretation of sleep in the composition Richter also consulted the American neuroscientist David Eagleman to learn more about how the human brain functions while sleeping, he then took this information and used it in the structure of the music , commenting on ‘Sleep’ Richter said “It’s really an experiment to try to understand how we experience music in different states of consciousness.” ‘sleep’ available digitally in its full glory but has also been released in an Hour version on CD/LP (clear Vinyl BTW) “You could say that the short one is meant to be listened to and the long one is meant to be heard while sleeping,” says Richter, who describes the one-hour version as “a series of windows opening into the big piece”. Although Richter believes not many will listen to it in its entirety I would highly recommend trying to, and if per chance you fall asleep, well then, Job done.
ALSO: SLEEP will be broadcast live on Radio 3 @ Midnight 26th Sept
Available now on Deutsche Grammophon