One of Schutze's strengths as a musician and composer is the breadth of his imagination. He is able to move effortlessly from the brutal jazz-noise fusion of Phantom City to the solo church organ of Nine Songs from the Garden of Welcome Lies and the ethnic chamber music minimalism of this double CD, which involves only the spoken word narration of Paivi Bjorkenheim, the ethnic flutes of Clive Bell and Schutze's steel drums, assorted percussion and processing. Each disc contains 51 short narrative statements, inspired by observation of and meditation on an archeological ruin, which is pictured on the CD cover. (Examples: "The ramped stair to the North of the two drums vanishes at thirty-two feet." And, "A further set of steps is visible only during the vernal equinox.") The location of this ruin is not identified, but Schutze assures that it is real. Nonetheless, it has a fantastical, otherworldly look to it, suggesting a highly evolved ancient civilization with a strong interest in celestial configurations and events. Both the narrative and music reinforce the inherent mystery of this civilization. Bell, a master of the Japanese shakuhachi flute, provides understated but evocative wisps of melody, and Schutze contributes intermittent resonances on the steel drums and assorted gongs. Barely perceptible birdsong and sounds of water complete the atmosphere, and Schutze enhances the overall effect with electronically enhanced drones. On the second disc, some muted vocal processing also emerges periodically, a kind of whispered ritual chorus. A brilliant and unique piece of work, Second Site is unlike anything you've ever heard before.
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