Chuck van Zyl: Rituals
As one who devotes so much time to delivering music to the world, it is good to see radio show host, reviewer and concert producer Chuck van Zyl also spending time at being an Electronic Musician. His release Rituals (57’01”) is one of Spacemusic’s sonic miracles. An album with incomparable penetration Rituals is so beautiful and ingenious that listeners will find its atmosphere of cosmic yearning on an equal level with that of its ceaseless sonic invention. The mood and message of this third volume extends the trajectory of his two previous CDs. While MemorySpace (2010) and Cenotaph (2012) took two years each to conceive, concertize, record and produce, Rituals took just two weeks. Using modular systems, a variety of modern analog synthesizers and sequencers and operating at an emotional and enthusiastic pitch, van Zyl has realized music that possesses as much the buzz and crackle of electricity as it does the frigid black of space. From his instrument’s storm force of sound comes delightful throbbing bass lines, echo-warping chimes and a mystery machine pulse against which van Zyl sways and plays synth strings, Mellotron choir and full-blooded melodies. Staccato synthesizer blips interlock and echo in mighty sequencer patterns, yet this mechanical rigidity is somehow softened – as lines of dancing arpeggios pump up against tuneful leads and ethereal harmonic progressions. Disarmingly quiet passages reduce the level of density and energy with insinuating modulations and vaporous aural forces. Rituals pushes and pulls itself, expands and contracts, and manages to establish an interesting contour through various scenarios and scenes… to attain a rare unity. Offering vivid synthesized sonorities the appeal lies in its minimalist values and in this musician’s ability to create an intimate and absorbing listening experience. As with albums by Arc and Redshift Rituals has an immediacy that can overwhelm – its cosmic beauty easily experienced over and over. The creative act is the one defense against the ruin of the world. Singing the mental electric with an inventive sonic flair Chuck van Zyl makes music that fills up the empty spaces and places of life. Embracing the early-day attitudes of the Kosmische Musik movement he transcends them – elevating the most familiar themes to another sphere. Anyone in love with Spacemusic and its very specific poetry will want to hear this recording.