24 Postcards in Full Colour
by Max Richter
In addition to Independence Day and National Hot Dog Month, July marked Cell Phone Courtesy Month. Let me challenge you to celebrate year round!
If ring tones were more sonically pleasing, perhaps it wouldn’t matter if we forgot our manners and failed to silence our cell phones in public places. Enter composer Max Richter. Richter’s 2008 album 24 Postcards in Full Colour is a collection of dreamy and atmospheric musical moments, composed with the intention they be used as ring tones. The longest track is a mere 2 and a ½ minutes.
Richter was born in Germany, but his family moved to the UK when he was a young lad. Growing up he listened to a whole lot of Philip Glass, Pink Floyd, The Clash, and artists in the electronic music scene such as Kraftwerk. After completing studies in composition and piano, Richter spent time in an ensemble that played works by composers such as the aforementioned Philip Glass, Brian Eno, and Steve Reich. Richter eventually began to focus on his own compositions releasing solo albums in the 2000’s, which brings us back to 24 Postcards. Some music snobs will say these very brief compositions are a creative cop-out, I say don’t forget it’s a concept album!
The album name, 24 Postcards in Full Colour, not only refers to the 24 tracks, but to the 24 accompanying photos in the liner notes. These snapshots, some of which were taken by Richter, add more facets of insight and enjoyment to the listening experience. He has also scored films, including last year’s Waltz with Bashir.
So always remember to practice cell phone courtesy. And the next time you decide to assign a new ring tone, think of Max Richter. Or consider John Cage’s most famous composition…