Originally part of a score for a contemporary ballet, a collaboration between the choreographer Wayne McGregor and artist Julian Opie, prolific composer/producer Max Richter has now expanded the music contained within Infra. While classical in construction (string quintet, piano) Richter weaves many elements of found sounds into the album, and it’s the fuzzy sound of morse code and broken voices on a long wave radio that opens the album. There’s also a very gentle use of electronics – and so delicate to begin with that they are even softer than the strings that soon envelop them.
There are parts that remind the listener of Michael Nyman (one being the song ‘Infra 3’) though these are the more defined moments, given over mostly to just piano. The real pleasure of the album is firstly the way you have to listen to it. You can’t really do anything else if you’re to enjoy it properly – if you even iron or polish shoes you’ll miss what’s going on, it’s just so subtle. You have to give the devoted time to the album alone. The second pleasure is the feeling that you could, for example, be lost in a mist, or rummaging through a second hand store. The melancholic score, found sounds and nautical bleeps really do set wonderful scenes.
Perhaps not as cohesive as it may have been and if you even blink, you’ll be at the end of the album with no recollection of listening to it but buried there is an extremely delicate album – evocative and enjoyable. And to enjoy it most you need to take time out from everything else – and what a fine excuse to do just that.