Following up on his deeply resonating album Voices (Decca, 2020) which found its inspiration in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and centred on the messages it sent in these problematic, dark political times, composer Max Richter comes up with a follow-up entitled Voices 2, and the results are mesmerizing. Most of the album was recorded during the same sessions that produced Voices, with additional sessions during lockdown when Richter recorded some of the solo piano parts at Abbey Road studios.
Unlike Voices, where the compositions featured readings of excerpts from the Declaration by various speakers in their native languages and the music quietly but strongly bolstered the sentiments and messages behind the texts, this time the music offers more reflective and introspective themes than before from Richter. The music has an organic quality, often developing from a string theme. The tinkling, lulling piano and lush, soothing strings feel so grounding and centring and so wholly peaceful. On Voices 2, ambient and classical sounds collide throughout the record, evoking the feeling of drifting into a serene hideaway.
The opening composition "Psychogeography" has serene energy which perfectly encapsulates the atmosphere that unfolds across the rest of the album as it gently pushes towards more pensive and reflective states. The album as a whole feels innately optimistic, even when the melodic choices feel nostalgic and decidedly melancholic. As a result, the compositions, with their gentle and immersive nature, are a welcome respite from the noise and turbulences that have marked this period of so much political, social, and health uncertainty and unrest.
It is evident that Richter has shown his soul in creating this record. This also includes the initial Voices record of which Voices 2 is a natural evolution. Voices 2 offers solace to the isolated and the world-weary and gives hope for the future. If music is how we cope with the situation in which we have found ourselves, then Richter has provided us with an incredible means to cope with a difficult period that we all are in. Voices 2 is an album of bright sincerity.