The use of calming and serene flutes and keyboards is synonymous with New Age music, and while they can sometimes seem overwrought, that’s never the case with the flutes and keyboards of German composer Deuter. His 2003 effort, Sea and Silence, is one of those durably timeless works of minimalist piano and flute, where drones and angelic voices come in like soft blankets of light from a morning sun through the clouds on the waves below, and a minimalist piano melody takes eloquent emotional register at the beauty of it all. Peaceful reflection is almost inevitable with such benevolent intent and musicianship that easily widens the once thin line between meditative soundscapes and emotional piano interludes for quiet nights at home. Deuter is the real thing and elevates the whole New Age genre into demanding the respect of classicists with work like Sea & Silence.
Sublime passages abound, such as in the beautiful lullaby—a la Beethoven—piano of “Empty Shore,” its melody slowly revolving and invoking a healing shimmering light of cooing female voices that lap gradually into synth drones. The eloquent “Seven Sacred Pools” works a grounded flute melody off the traces of a lightly beaten conga and reverb-drenched electric guitar picked light as a feather. The following track plunges below the waves into a realm of deep stillness outside time where long echoing flute notes vibrate into being like the universal “ohm” expressing itself through birds or fish—which meld into each other Escher-like, like light and darkness.
The best is saved for last. The amazing title track utilizes the whole range of Deuter’s gifts, from his ability to hold long beautiful notes that shimmer like ocean-floor mirages and change from flutes to synthesizers to voices depending on how close to them you get, while achingly minimalist-piano notes create shape in the surrounding silences. Deuter’s music holds a tinge of sadness only because it always seems to be fading in its all-encompassing embrace of the light and darkness, sea and sky, life and death. The sadness is just one thing in a spectrum of light, perhaps the only thing we are overly familiar with for we’ve never known what comes beyond the letting go. Deuter can take us to all the other colors, one shimmering sustained chord at a time.