Sleep (album)

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Sleep (Front Cover).png
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 4, 2015 (2015-09-04)
StudioAvatar Studios
(Manhattan, New York)
AIR Studios
(London, England)
(Berlin, Germany)
From Sleep: 59:59
LabelDeutsche Grammophon
ProducerMax Richter
Christian Badzura (exec. producer)
Yulia Mahr (exec. producer)
Max Richter chronology
Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi – The Four Seasons
From Sleep

Sleep is an eight-and-a-half hour concept album based around the neuroscience of sleep[3] by German-British composer Max Richter.[4][5] It was released on September 4, 2015, accompanied by a one-hour version with variations, From Sleep,[6] later remixed as Sleep Remixes.[7]

A documentary Max Richter's Sleep directed by Natalie Johns, released in April 2020 focuses on Richter and Mahr's performances of Sleep in Los Angeles, Berlin, Sydney, and Paris.[8] In March 2023, Richter released Sleep: Tranquility Base EP, with new versions of themes from Sleep.[9]


Sleep was conceived by Richter and his partner, the visual artist Yulia Mahr.[10] It is targeted to fit a full night's rest. Richter talked with American neuroscientist David Eagleman while working on the album's piece to learn about how the brain functions during sleep. Richter stated, "Sleeping is one of the most important things we all do ... We spend a third of our lives asleep and it's always been one of my favourite things, ever since I was a child. ... For me, Sleep is an attempt to see how that space when your conscious mind is on holiday can be a place for music to live."[11]

In the album's credits Richter describes Sleep as an eight-hour lullaby that is meant to be listened to at night. It is scored for piano, cello, two violas, two violins, organ, soprano vocals, synthesizers and electronics. The piece comprises 31 sections in slow tempo. These range from less than three minutes to over thirty, with an average duration of just over fifteen minutes. The sections are variations of five themes.

From Sleep[edit]

The release of Sleep was accompanied by a one-hour album, From Sleep, with seven additional tracks, not present on the eight-hour release, recorded during the same sessions.

From Sleep was promoted by music videos for three tracks: "Dream 13 (Minus Even)," [12] "Path 5 (Delta)" [13] and "Dream 3 (In the Midst of My Life)."[14] Additionally, remixed versions of the three tracks, by Mogwai, Clark, Digitonal, Jürgen Müller, Kaitlyn Aurelia and Marconi Union, have been featured on a subsequent remix EP Sleep Remixes, released digitally on February 19, 2016.[7]

Related releases[edit]

New sequences and selections from Sleep were part of a free sleep music and meditation timer mobile app for iOS, introduced to help users sleep, meditate, and focus.[15]

In April 2020, a documentary Max Richter's Sleep was released. Directed by Natalie Johns, the film follows Richter and Mahr performances during the album's tour including an open-air concert in Los Angeles, and performance footage from Berlin, Sydney, and Paris, as well as behind-the-scenes footage.[8]

In March 2023, Sleep: Tranquility Base EP was released, with new versions of themes from Sleep. Titled after the Tranquility Base on the Moon.[9]

Live performances[edit]

Sleep was performed in its entirety from midnight to 8:00 AM at the Wellcome Collection in 2015 as the climax of the BBC Radio 3 "Science and Music" weekend.[16] Audience members watched from beds instead of chairs.[11] The performance set records for the longest broadcast and longest live broadcast of a single piece of music.[11] The album was also performed at the Philharmonie de Paris in 2017,[17] and outdoors in Grand Park, Los Angeles in 2018. The Los Angeles performances had 560 beds and were timed so the final movement, "Dream 0 (till break of day)" would occur at dawn.[18][19][20]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
Drowned in Sound9/10[23]
The Line of Best Fit8/10[24]

Sleep received wide acclaim from contemporary music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 79, based on 7 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[21]

Jon Falcone gave the album a very positive review, stating, "Sleep implores you for companionship and bleeds into itself as it bleeds into the listener. Typing while the fizz of ‘Never Fade Into Nothingness’ plays makes transforms Word documents in an epic dance of black pixels on white light, binary marks scratching into a too-bright glassy reflection. Walking while the echo-drenched monastic vocals of ‘Non-Eternal’ exposes that the world we occupy is haunted is exhilarating and avoiding awkward work colleagues as ‘If You Came This Way’ patters out its motif, that dangles held violin notes over electronic burbles, is to experience the sound of solace itself."[23]

Grayson Haver Currin of Pitchfork Media gave the album a positive review, stating, "At its best, Sleep feels like compositionally rigorous new age music. It’s a place in which you can settle for a while, with or without a pillow, and emerge only when you are ready to rejoin the restive world."[2] Currin was also slightly critical of the release, stating, "Sleep, then, is simply too didactic as a name. It’s a command that tells us how to enjoy something that clearly has other uses. That handle, combined with Richter’s conceit, has turned the record into a kind of clickbait story, too, which seems entirely antithetical to Richter’s point."[2]

Commercial performance[edit]

As of February 2020 Sleep had peaked at position 44 in the UK album charts, with sales of 40,151.[26] As of July 2020, Sleep had almost 500 million streams.[27]

Track listing[edit]


All tracks are written by Max Richter.

1."Dream 1 (before the wind blows it all away)"18:31
3."Dream 2 (entropy)"10:02
4."Path (7676)"11:00
5."whose name is written on water"11:15
6."Patterns (cypher)"2:47
8."Aria 1"11:06
9."Return 2 (song)"16:46
10."nor earth, nor boundless sea"19:17
11."Dream 11 (whisper music)"18:54
12."moth-like stars"28:53
13."Path 17 (before the ending of daylight)"26:52
14."Space 26 (epicardium)"6:56
15."Patterns (lux)"16:43
16."Constellation 1"6:56
17."Constellation 2"15:20
18."Space 2 (slow waves)"7:42
20."Dream 19 (pulse)"18:53
24."Aria 2"11:02
25."never fade into nothingness"9:41
26."Return 16 (time capsule)"24:25
27."if you came this way"14:29
28."Space 17 (chains)"17:59
30."Dream 17 (Alpha)"28:47
31."Dream 0 (till break of day)"33:47
Total length:504:21
  • The digital release treats the above as one single piece, segueing between each track. On CD, the last songs on each disc, "whose name is written on water", "Dream 11 (whisper music)", "Patterns (lux)", "Chorale/glow", "Song/echo" "if you came this way" and "Sublunar", are lightly extended in order to account for the physical limitations of the medium; these pieces are extended by up to 30 seconds to account for the lack of transitions into the next track.

From Sleep[edit]

1."Dream 3 (In The Midst Of My Life)"10:04
2."Path 5 (Delta)"11:14
3."Space 11 (Invisible Pages Over)"5:16
4."Dream 13 (Minus Even)"8:53
5."Space 21 (Petrichor)"4:48
6."Path 19 (Yet Frailest)"7:51
7."Dream 8 (Late And Soon)"11:53
Total length:59:59

Rough Trade Shops Special Edition CD2

2."Diffraction Sequence"4:21
3."Origins (ursa major)"16:02
Total length:32:02


Main personnel
  • Max Richter – composer, electronics, liner notes, mixing, organ, piano, primary artist, producer, quotation author, synthesizer
  • American Contemporary Music Ensemble – strings (ensemble)
  • Grace Davidson – vocals (soprano)
  • Brian Snow – cello
  • Clarice Jensen – cello
  • Caleb Burhans – viola
  • Ben Russell – violin
  • Yuki Numata Resnick – violin
Additional personnel
  • Christian Badzura – project manager
  • Tom Bailey – assistant engineer
  • Tim Cooper – liner notes
  • Rupert Coulson – engineer, mixing
  • David Eagleman – liner notes
  • Merle Kersten – art direction
  • Yulia Mahr – executive producer
  • Mandy Parnell – mastering
  • Anna-Lena Rodewald – project manager
  • Mike Terry – photography
  • Alejandro Venguer – engineer
  • Mareike Walter – design


Chart (2015) Peak
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[28] 120
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[29] 171
UK Albums (OCC)[30] 44
US Top Classical Albums (Billboard)[31] 1
US Heatseekers Albums (Billboard)[32] 4
From Sleep (one-hour version)
Chart (2015) Peak
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[33] 18
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[34] 46
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[35] 23
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[36] 72
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[37] 81
US Top Classical Albums (Billboard)[38] 3
US Heatseekers Albums (Billboard)[39] 12


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[40] Gold 100,000double-dagger

double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The 50 Best Ambient Albums of All Time". Pitchfork. September 26, 2016. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Currin, Grayson Haver (September 21, 2015). "Max Richter: Sleep". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  3. ^ "Red Bull Music Academy". Retrieved 2017-02-22.
  4. ^ "MAX RICHTER – SLEEP (eight-hour version) – Download – Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft". Retrieved 2017-02-22.
  5. ^ "RICHTER Sleep (8h version) – 8 CDs + 1 Blu-ray Audio – Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft". Retrieved 2017-02-22.
  6. ^ "MAX RICHTER from SLEEP (one-hour version) – 1 CD / Download – Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft". Retrieved 2017-02-22.
  7. ^ a b "RICHTER Sleep (Remixes) – Download – Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft". Retrieved 2017-02-22.
  8. ^ a b "Max Richter's Sleep | Official Film Website | Out Now in Cinemas & On Demand". Max Richter's Sleep | Official Film Website | Out Now in Cinemas & On Demand. Retrieved 2023-03-10.
  9. ^ a b "Max Richter Introduces: SLEEP: Tranquility Base". Deutsche Grammophon. Retrieved 2023-03-10.
  10. ^ Hole & Corner {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ a b c Max Richter Performs Sleep Live for Eight Hours, Sets Guinness World Record on BBC Radio 3
  12. ^ MaxRichterVEVO (2015-08-10), Max Richter –Dream 13 (minus even), retrieved 2017-02-21
  13. ^ MaxRichterVEVO (2015-09-04), Max Richter – Path 5 (delta), retrieved 2017-02-21
  14. ^ MaxRichterVEVO (2015-09-17), Max Richter – Dream 3 (in the midst of my life), retrieved 2017-02-21
  15. ^ "SLEEP by Max Richter". App Store. Retrieved 2023-03-10.
  16. ^ Sinfini Music – Latest: Music and the brain
  17. ^ Max Richter - Sleep
  18. ^ Los Angeles Times - Composer Max Richter wants fans to spend the night in Grand Park
  19. ^ Hollywood Reporter - Max Richter on Bringing Overnight Concert "Sleep" to L.A. and Why Sushi Helps Him Stay Awake
  20. ^ Rolling Stone - Composer Max Richter to Perform Overnight L.A. Concerts With 560 Beds
  21. ^ a b "Reviews for Sleep [8 Hour Version] by Max Richter". Metacritic. Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  22. ^ "Sleep – Max Richter". AllMusic. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  23. ^ a b Falcone, Jon. Max Richter – Sleep Archived 2016-02-03 at the Wayback Machine. Drowned In Sound. 11 September 2015. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  24. ^ "The Line of Best Fit review".
  25. ^ Metacritic: Uncut Magazine score
  26. ^ Paine, Andre (17 February 2020). "Max Richter on streaming phenomenon Sleep and his epic eight-hour live show". Music Week. Retrieved 26 February 2020.
  27. ^ Paine, Andre (21 July 2020). "The Aftershow_ Max Richter". Music Week. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  28. ^ " – Max Richter – Sleep" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  29. ^ " – Max Richter – Sleep" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  30. ^ "Max Richter | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  31. ^ "Max Richter Chart History (Top Classical Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  32. ^ "Max Richter Chart History (Heatseekers Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  33. ^ " – Max Richter – From Sleep" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  34. ^ " – Max Richter – From Sleep" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  35. ^ " – Max Richter – From Sleep" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  36. ^ " – Max Richter – From Sleep" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  37. ^ " – Max Richter – From Sleep". Hung Medien. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  38. ^ "Max Richter Chart History (Top Classical Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  39. ^ "Max Richter Chart History (Heatseekers Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  40. ^ "British album certifications – Max Richter – Sleep". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved February 4, 2023.