- "Thinking about how we listen to music today, I wonder why it is that ringtones have so far been treated as unfit for creative music. Who says ringtones have to be bad? It's like saying LPs or CDs are bad—it's just a medium," says Max Richter, the Scottish born, Berlin-based composer/performer whose latest album, 24 Postcards in Full Colour features twenty-four classical "ringtones."
The ringtone, as Richter's title implies, is similar in many ways to a postcard: Both mediums are designed without an envelope, allowing the public to experience the individual style of another person's writing, or listen to the musical preference of another person's incoming phone call. Hearing another person's ringtone is usually annoying, as it often clashes with the environment, creating a noise pollution train wreck. No matter how gorgeous Max Richter can make a ringtone, what society really needs are more phones on vibrate. Although 24 Postcards in Full Colour is certainly not noise pollution, just like a postcard, it leaves the audience wanting to know much more.
Max Richter is musically categorized as a 21st century composer, a post-classical musician whose previous three albums are filled with lush cinematic themes blended with ambient electronic samples, and field recordings. Nonetheless, listening to the ringtone concept of 24 Postcards from beginning to end is difficult. The longest track is just under three minutes, while the majority clock in around sixty seconds. As quickly as you get into each song, the song quickly gets out. Even though Max Richter can create an emotional feeling in under a minute, the overall mood of the album is fleeting.
The most accessible song for the electronic-minded is "Tokyo Riddle Song," a repetitious pulse of soft echoes, while the rest shuttles between fragmented between solo piano works, deep string progressions or simple guitar arrangements with or without subtle electronic sampling in the background. Overall, the collection of tones are attractive, but the undersized experience of having 24 songs cut abruptly short reminds me of my grandfather's notorious channel surfing. Max Richter's 24 Postcards in Full Colour is full of rich texture and emotional detail, we just need to take the remote away and give the songs more time to develop.
01. The Road Is a Grey Tape
02. H in New England
03. This Picture of Us. P.
04. Lullaby from the West Coast Sleepers
05. When the Northern Lights/Jasper And Louise
06. Circles From The Rue Simon-Crubellier
07. Cascade NW by W
08. A Sudden Manhattan of the Mind
09. In Louisville at 7
11. I Was Just Thinking
12. A Song for H/Far Away
13. Return to Prague
14. Broken Symmetries for Y
15. Berlin by Overnight
16. Cradle Song for A (Interstate B3)
18. From 553 W Elm Street, Logan, Illinois (Snow)
19. Tokyo Riddle Song
20. The Tartu Piano
21. Cold Fusion for G
22. 32 Via San Nicolo
23. Found Song for P.
24. H Thinks a Journey