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