Spacemusic Reviews

Category: Moog

Chuck van Zyl: Recitals 3

Recitals 3

Recitals 3

Chuck van Zyl: Recitals 3
Released: 21 December 2019

Since 1986 Chuck van Zyl has been a man finding his moment, in any live space that will hold him. The double CD Recitals 3 presents music recorded at several 2018 performances. His shows were documented with an ordinary two-track recording device, and, after months of review, two 60+ minute sonic journeys were produced and released as Recitals 3.

In most live improvisations a player is trying to transcend their instrument – but live concerts for Chuck van Zyl are an attempt to transcend a system of instruments. Finding the truest version of himself on stage his wish is that, according to the musician, “the you inside you will know something about the me inside me”. Making the music happen in space, as if touching the notes, molding them and shaping them within time itself offers a great quality of expression. Recitals 3 arrives with high expectations and from the start it delights and transports. The live concert, the flickering shadow of the soul is where moment by moment this music was realized. Musicians know that it takes someone else to hear the truth in their work, and it is in the concert venue that Chuck van Zyl promises to uncover the secret of his own operation.

Disc 1 (71’39”) includes music from live performances for MUSIC WITH SPACE, Johnny Brenda’s and NEEM Fest 2018 and moves from the dolorous to the ecstatic in a balance of opposing tensions. As if upon the workings of some powerful engine the music moves deliberately in sequencer steps rather than abruptly in leaps. Entrancing cyclical motifs and subtly spun melodic fragments pivot in front of harmonies and phrases and so make the repetitions feel new and novel, yet confidently familiar. In his vast poem of electricity van Zyl threads reciprocal shades of soft-hued tones, dazed sonic introspection, icy reverie, and lunar lullaby into a kaleidoscopic suite of interstellar melody and electronic communion. In sputtering sparks this work sounded crisply on the mild air of the concert space – while further in, the rolling clicking-clock ticky-tock pulse will unwind your mind. A symphony of thought, The Weakening Eye of Day fascinates the mind, captivates the heart, and stimulates the imagination.

Disc 2 (76’05”) features extracts from the abstract passages of five performances, and hopes to bypass the conscious sensibilities for a direct connection to that which is elemental within the listener. Like a meteor seeking a lost sun this passage spends its force searching. Inside the lowest midnight a thousand dreams softly burn. Through shivering chill currents, we pass the control of known forces. Like something falling through darkness, this moonlight swirls in the color of night. Notes collide, collude and combine. Each movement comes at you in a ramble of melody, a search of harmony, a flight of timbre. With chords moving in contrary motion, and opposed by industrial sound effects, the listening ear is pulled through the shadows to light. Throughout To the Close and Holy Darkness Chuck van Zyl develops a poetic idea, suggests a scene, creates a mood. Even as its accord of sounds, so sweet and pleasing to the ear, is opposed by dissonance, we may hear a unity in the arrangement and the message it conveys.

Communing at these concerts the soundscape forms itself around us, and so we may feel human together – the bright tones communicating a sense of repose and clarity and capturing a wide range of deeply felt interior resonances. The music found on Recitals 3 displays the glimmer of imaginative energy that has graced van Zyl’s music for over 30 years. Conjoining disparate impulses it evokes cycles of collapse and renewal. Gorgeously colored, weighty in theme, style and construction this music reaches into the world of the surreal. As expected, this live album does feel newborn, yet ghosts are created on every track. In a culture where everything can be explained, the meaning of this music still eludes definition – because somewhere in its vast stretches of the unknown and the unanswered, there is something moving, something profound – is waiting.

From the Press Release – 17 December 2019

Klaus Schulze: Silhouettes



Klaus Schulze: Silhouettes
Released: 25 May 2018

It may seem that when Klaus Schulze releases an album the whole history of contemporary Electronic Music lines up behind it. Yet from the audience’s perspective, the pure experience of listening to his music pushes thoughts towards the future. Silhouettes (75’00”) is for people wanting an intelligent, sophisticated production, not kid stuff. Its urgency and subtly heightened, fiercely focussed energies evoke a feeling of somber introspection. Silhouettes deepens quietly, as a deep dark something happens around the edges of its four tracks. With a tug of dire, inescapable gravity the world seems in absolute suspension – nothing moving, everything centered. In brighter passages exuberant harmonic gestures calms the formless questions gnawing at our souls. Where the music is spacious and uncluttered, sustained notes, sustained chords, and progressions of chords speak an utter truth with sound. It is a dense work expanded by inventive scoring and powerful narrative ideas. Light sequencer patterns arise, hurrying the interior current within, adding dancing tones to our teeming, gleaning minds. This kind of music usually benefits from simplicity, a point Schulze understands well. Silhouettes has a weightless allure built out of droning spaces and populated with cloud melodies that float and hover. While not exactly minimalist, because the layers are too involved and full of forward motion, Schulze’s achievement continues to be an assured, calmingly quiet atmosphere, which allows you to escape reality in a way unique to this venerable musician. However, his most enduring effect may be that he made our world appear to be a better place, by helping us keep the outside world outside – as you listen for the infinitely precious sound of the universe rhyming with one’s own brain.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END – 21 June 2018

Chuck van Zyl: Rituals



Rituals by Chuck van Zyl
Released: 15 November 2014

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.

(STAR’S END14 November 2014)