One of the most beautiful and definitive tracks in Max Richter's ever-growing body of work is "On the Nature of Daylight" from The Blue Notebooks, the album that brought him to the attention of many critics and fans. Since that breakthrough, he's developed a niche as a composer ready and willing to revamp the classics, as he did with Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, as well as a sensitive and versatile composer of scores for films ranging from looks at the not-so-tame secret lives of domesticated animals (Die Fremde) to dystopian sci-fi (Perfect Sense). Richter's music for Disconnect is an intersection of those career paths: the score uses "Daylight" as its emotional and musical focus, surrounding it with pieces that echo and complement it. While Martin Scorsese's brain-twisting thriller Shutter Island also featured the piece prominently, here it's fundamental to the film and its exploration of how technology brings people together and (more often) pulls them apart. Cues like "The Swimmer" reprise "On the Nature of Daylight"'s beautifully somber violin melodies, while "Confrontation" pits them against pummeling electronic beats in a way that could be heavy-handed but maintains a dignified poignancy in Richter's hands. Elsewhere, the score borrows from other Blue Notebooks pieces like the lovely "Written on the Sky," or evokes them as on the mournful organ pieces "Hospital" and "The Gun." Given the film's tech fixation, most of the rest of Disconnect's music is more electronic and makes the most of Richter's minimalism, whether on brief, wash-like tracks such as "The Report" or more elaborate ones like "Zero Balance," which moves from delicate tones to more ominous ones as it progresses. Many of these tracks aren't as attention-getting as the ones that draw from Richter's classical roots, but his cues for Disconnect's action scenes are as tense as they are restrained; "Pursuit" and "Running" are just as taut, but far subtler, than a typical climactic score piece. Disconnect is of a piece with scores like Cliff Martinez's Traffic, where the music seems to just faintly tint the air with the proper mood. It may not be among Richter's richest works, but he provides what the film needs from its music with more depth and restraint than many other composers could have managed.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares
feat: Jayme Ivison