Ever since the release of his ringtone exploration, 24 Postcards in Full Colour, though, he's largely turned his attention to soundtracks. Infra is the culmination of one of them, a 25-minute work padded out to 40 that in its original form provided the musical backing to a 2008 Royal Ballet performance. Sitting at home, you'd be hard-pressed to isolate which sections have been extended, which are outtakes and which were originally included. Infra is a remarkably cohesive work in both sound and feel.
Richter's sound palette is generally similar to the one that he has used in past works. It often sounds far more intimate, however. With the slow-moving violin pushed to the fore on "Journey 4," we're confronted with a private lament rather than the massed pathos of something like Memoryhouse's "Last Days" or the The Blue Notebooks's tidy dirge "On the Nature of Daylight." Other writers have noted the uncertain quality of Infra, and they're exactly right. Whereas before you felt like the sadness was just a bit too easy, Infra seems mature, a work uninterested in blacks and whites.
This makes Infra one of Richter's least immediate works. But, for a composer criticized for the middlebrow nature of his solo work, it also sounds like a step in the right direction. Instead of aiming directly for the heart, Richter often shoots for areas around it. Because Infra operates as only one part of a much larger work, it has to. When he becomes the center of attention, as he does on the overbearing "Infra 5," he settles into routine. When he pits radio crackle against bending tones that don't immediately make your tear ducts start welling, he unlocks a different sort of potential.