A bold move for Schutze, Nine Songs... sidesteps his typical studio-enhanced jazz fusion and swirling electronic ambience for a series of austere solo improvisations on a wheezy wooden church organ in St. Moritz, in the Swiss Alps. The only concession to technology is a discreet but very effective grafting of percussive gongs and chimes onto many of the compositions. Schutze is no keyboard genius, but his music is not about technique. He's more interested in exploring the sonic properties of his instrument, and in creating soundtracks for states of mind. The mood throughout is low-key and meditative, but with an interesting mix of styles and textures. "Song Five," tfor example, is a drone piece, in which sustained organ tones give way to a stately pattern of low gongs suggesting Indonesian court music. On several tracks, the ancient organ produces squeals and asthmatic rasps, creating an otherworldly ambience reminiscent of Buddhist ritual music (especially when combined with the gongs). The variable pitch of certain chords can suggest Tibetan horns or, as on "Song Two," the high, lonesome wail of train or boat whistles. Other "straighter" and more lyrical pieces have the hypnotic spiritualism of Messiaen's organ works, with the instrument's mechanical irregularities enhancing the quality of strangeness. A fascinating recording which gets deeper, the deeper you get into it.
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AllMusic Review by William Tilland