Chuck van Zyl “Celestial Mechanics” and Robert Rich “Live at the Gatherings 2015” releases out now!

i8-10 Robert Rich: Live at the Gatherings 2015 2CD

All music contained herein was realized live in concert by Robert Rich on 11 April 2015 as part of The Gatherings Concert Series at St. Mary’s Hamilton Village in Philadelphia, PA.

This double CD features the complete concert, its sequence and encore (without any performance edits or overdubs), and has been split at an appropriate point so as to fit its content onto two discs.

“Robert Rich is about more than just exhibiting himself on the stage. His many concert appearances are understood as substantial, yet ephemeral experiences in sound. Among the most notable are Rich’s numerous appearances in Philadelphia as part of The Gatherings Concert Series. This is a safe place for innovative musicians to explore creativity, and discover what lies inside – the listener and player alike. We now have a permanent treasure to add to the memory of one such concert. The double CD Live at The Gatherings 2015 presents Robert Rich’s 11 April 2015 performance, an album that will touch your mind, and may even invade your dreams. While Rich focuses on the brainy, metaphysical aspects of his live work, he is always solidly attentive to the more practical issues. Through contour, pacing and tone, he makes buying admission to one of his live events a ticket to a foreign land. In coolly assured advances, forthright flute solos ascend through reverberant chambers, then brood over their own worth. Thrusting percussive rhythms rumble beneath swooning steel guitar solos. Snapping with a seductive skill, drums invigorate the mood, but we find the foreground is commanded by a writhing fuzz lead line – moaning through electrical circuits. Remote synth strings project both fragility and flashes of brilliance. Further down below we encounter tectonically imagined realms of biomorphic abstractions meant to beckon and boggle. Here Rich seems to reach into silence – bringing back something which may glow warmly, or just as easily, feel cold and damp. A mist to the brittle spirit, Robert Rich in concert is an event which celebrates the complexity of the human mind. The transit between quiet cerebral musings and propulsive visceral thrills seems to generate this album’s own energy. Like Rich himself, and the music he realizes live, Live at The Gatherings 2015 is authentic. It both belongs to our era, and transcends it. We are the meaning-seeking animals, and Rich, at some great height, is constantly searching within himself for something deeper to express. Passion… is it the friction between the world and the soul? If so, then Robert Rich’s concert space is about passion, as well as pleasure. It also acts as an outlet for intellect – and a bit of musical virtuosity. So, while each audience member is entitled to their own personal interpretations, the common connection here is the ability of this experience to connected us to that which is humane, gentle and life-giving – a function which we see slowly receding from the modern life.”

– Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END

Limited edition of 300 copies.

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i8-09 Chuck Van Zyl: Celestial Mechanics CD

SUMMARY:
Celestial Mechanics’ origin extends back to the era of tape. The 1980s found Chuck van Zyl recording spacemusic and releasing it on audio cassette. Synkronos Music put out a trove of releases, including The Moment of Totality (1990) and Callisto (1989). Each cassette held two side-long pieces of music, and established a series of releases by van Zyl representing his enthusiasm for astronomy and the cosmos. Released on CD in 1993 by Scotland’s Centaur Discs Ltd, that original CD has been out of print for years. But thanks to the Philadelphia-based industry8 label, Celestial Mechanics is back with us, re-issued, re-mastered and treated to modern audio enhancements, and a much improved fidelity. Housed in a limited edition, four panel digipak, and adorned with vivid NASA probe images, it offers the opportunity to encounter the significant backstory to one of our community’s most unique members.

LONG DESCRIPTION

The outward appearance of Celestial Mechanics is that of a CD album, but its true origin extends back to the era of tape. The 1980s found Chuck van Zyl (and his many compatriots) recording Spacemusic and releasing it on audio cassette. During this span, Synkronos Music put out a trove of cassette releases, including The Moment of Totality (1990) and Callisto (1989) by Chuck van Zyl. Each held two side-long pieces of music, and established a series of releases by van Zyl representing his enthusiasm for Astronomy and the Cosmos.

So Celestial Mechanics may be viewed as compiling these early works onto a CD, and getting them out before the public… and that is exactly what Centaur Discs Ltd of Scotland did in 1993 – thus presenting Chuck van Zyl to the world beyond his small mail order following.

That original CD edition has been out of print for some time now. But thanks to the Philadelphia based industry8 label, Celestial Mechanics is back with us, re-issued, re-mastered and treated to modern audio enhancements, and a much improved fidelity. Housed in a limited edition, four panel digipak, and adorned with vivid NASA probe images, it offers those interested listeners and collectors the opportunity to encounter the significant backstory to one of our community’s most unique members.

Inspired by space, the physical universe, and all of its intricacies, as well as by classic Kosmische Musik works from out of the 1970s Berlin-School, van Zyl realized the four pieces found on Celestial Mechanics as personal electronic odes – to the four Galilean moons of Jupiter, and the astral motions of the solar system.

Clearly influenced by Crystal Lake and Rubycon, as well as by the direct mentoring of The Nightcrawlers (the NJ Space trio with which he was so closely associated), the release of these cassettes found van Zyl himself finally making music that, not only properly portrayed his cosmic yearning, but was representative of the restless, creative spirit which inhabits him to this day.

As we listen to Celestial Mechanics, we can feel this world of discovery still living on. The repeating music box sequencer intro of the title track immediately turns our thoughts to the virtues of The Universe as a place of possibility and wonder. Sounds build out, and additional lines of rhythm are introduced. A magic machine pulse provides a distinctive energy, one more of the mind than of the air. Confirming synth lines surface – reassuring the lost, and arousing the adventurous – with dramatic chord changes helping us ascend further still. As we pass through eerie amorphous interludes of drones, metallic tones, and wondrously modulated aural accents, the mounting tension resolves.

The emergence of an ever repeating pattern of echoing bass notes supports the lilting melody of a soft synthesizer lead. Minimalist sequencer runs motor on, then gradually brighten. Individual notes are transposed and repeated, minutely altering the pattern and quickening the music’s pulse. After a few variations in momentum, the music slows, and expends its previously built mass in thoughtful repose. Transitioning out of this energetic phase, the magical beauty of its closing section solemnly brings Celestial Mechanics to its conclusion.

While Celestial Mechanics includes all of the texture and atmosphere the Spacemusic genre is known for, its biggest success is in its entertainment of a most unusual idea… of traveling while being still. New musical territory can only be discovered once… and Chuck van Zyl has built profoundly on all of his finds, using them as reference points – in a field that is inexhaustible.

Limited 1st pressing of 100 signed and hand-numbered copies.

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Chuck Van Zyl “The Xyl File” on CD

Released November 12th:
The XYL Filei8-08 Chuck Van Zyl: The Xyl File CD

Originally released as an audio cassette in 1991, The Xyl File compiled four pieces from the first two tape offerings by Chuck van Zyl. In fact, released under the name Xyl, Low Glide (10:10), Nuclear Winter (14:24), The Theory Changes the Reality It Describes (23:07) and Runway (14:29) were among the very first electronic realizations produced by the noted Electronic Musician Chuck van Zyl. Twenty five years on, we find these works (originally from as far back as 1985) to be surprisingly well-conceived and executed for an artist just at the outset of a life-long journey into space and sound.

Re-issued on CD in 2016 (with two fellow tracks from the same prior period) by the Philadelphia based independent label Industry8, The Xyl File (73:32) presents an impressive range of textures, atmospheres, moods and energy levels. From desolate soundscapes of metallic drones and chilled fallout chimes, and darkening fields of sustaining sci-fi zones, to cruise missile sequencer cascades, and the echoing rush of warped-out mechanized tone patterns, each of these re-mastered and re-vitalized tracks imaginatively explore all the dark, light, loud and quiet realms available to the learned synthesist. What sets this music apart from that of its contemporaries is an enthusiasm, optimism and ambition found only in the beginner.

Exposed to an astounding depth and range of music while producing the WXPN radio programs DIASPAR and STAR’S END (1980-onward), Chuck van Zyl became most deeply moved by album discoveries out of the Berlin-School of EM. Obvious titles by Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream and Michael Hoenig such as Mirage, Rubycon and Departure From the Northern Wasteland certainly influenced the works found on The Xyl File; as did their near relatives Oxygene by Jean-Michel Jarre, Iceland by Richard Pinhas, and even the much more avant-ambient Sonic Seasonings by Wendy Carlos and Hearing Solar Winds by David Hykes and the Harmonic Choir. But perhaps of even greater significance was the encouragement and friendship of The Nightcrawlers, the local trio of Spacemusicians who fostered and sustained Philadelphia’s innovative music scene throughout the decade of the 1980s – and whose care, oversight and attachment van Zyl so benefited from.

The Xyl File is not only a document of Chuck van Zyl’s first principles, it is also a finely crafted journey through turbulent forces – those of sound, and of the intellect. These six 25+ year old compositions are evidence that the only limit there is on the future are the doubts of today. The act of making this music, of trusting in the future, finds Chuck van Zyl declaring and defining himself – in this music full of passionate intensity, meaningful stillness, and the humanity that lies in-between.

Limited edition CD (not a CDR) of 100 signed and numbered copies. Packaged in a 4-panel digipak.

Released November 12th, 2016.

Track Listing:
1. Low Glide 10:10
2. The Theory Changes The Reality It Describes 23:07
3. Nuclear Winter 14:25
4. Runway 14:29
5. Faston 5:18
6. Testament of Youth 6:03

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