The holistic music wizard known as Deuter has made a career of composing soothing, stirring albums. His oeuvre transcends the boundaries of East and West, as well as the relaxing “spa” sound of New Age music and goes for the more outré and mysterious sound of ambient. OnKoyasan he focuses special attention on the instruments of the Far East, particularly the Chinese erhu (the ancient two-stringed, long-necked violin-style instrument) and the Japanese flute known as the shakuhachi. The initial effect is cinematic, recalling Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’s haunting erhu-based score. As the tracks continue, however, one finds the erhu and flute to be simply the peak of a very big and beautiful mountain. While these instruments loll and flow above, Deuter brings in big, purple cumulonimbus clouds of synthesizer drones below.
“Lovesong From the Mountain” embodies this metaphor perfectly, with erhu and flute hovering in a state of timeless grace above flowing synth washes. Lulling and pulling as they flow, this music seems to exert a gravitational pull on centers in the body of the listener. The album is subtitled Reiki Sound Healing and even if you don’t know reiki or are listening to the album alone in your room and not at a healing center, there is undeniably some force at work in the tones and pulses of Deuter’s work. When a single piano note dissolves the trance, as in “Sound of Invisible Waters,” the effect is startling. Gradually piano notes multiply and create a quilt of healing energy that spreads out to envelop the listener with all the gentle warmth of Grandma’s favorite blanket.
Nowhere is this feeling more profound than on the closing track, the aptly named “Escape From Gravity.” This elegiac piece encompasses all that’s come before and ends the album with the same wistful joy of saying good-bye to a house that’s full of old friends. All the phrases of the previous tracks return—blissfully cycling piano arpeggios, mournful ehru and stoic flute—flowing together to touch every facet of the soul and emotion. We may feel at times that we will escape gravity and scale the highest peaks of experience, but ultimately we have to descend. Deuter makes the sadness and beauty this implies marvelously tangible.