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Reviews 3-7-2004


Everlasting Moment

The Ministry of Inside Things

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Chuck Van Zyl is an e-music icon. He is the host and producer of Star’s End, a weekly radio program in Philly dedicated to electronic music. He is the organizer, promoter and host of The Gatherings, a concert series – again, in Philly – that features some of e-music’s finest. Chuck is also a venerable e-music performer. As a soloist, collaborator and group member, he has created some delicious Berlin school e-music.

Art Cohen, while not quite an icon, is an e-music legend. He can be seen at every Gathering, running the soundboard and interacting with the fans. He is low key, unassuming, knowledgeable and very friendly. He is also a veteran electronician, specializing in the electronic and ambient guitar.

Together, Chuck and Art are The Ministry of Inside Things, a legendary east coast ensemble. Everlasting Moments is a double CD of live Berlin school and European electronica. Chuck and Art combine sequences, guitartronics, atmospheres and experimental timbres expertly. The sound design gives each feature its proper voice. They also combine organic and metallic textures smoothly. That speaks clearly to the skills of Chuck and Art as much of the music on these discs was improvised in concert.

This set is a must-have for e-music fans. It has a little bit of something for everybody!

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


Ambient Red Washes

by Larry Kucharz

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Larry Kucharz is one of the most underrated and underappreciated artists in the e-music community. He is also a true visionary. His CD’s almost always include pieces that he created several years before the release. Ambient Red Washes is a set of eleven compositions, three of which are from 1993. Larry’s “Vision” allows those pieces to fit smoothly in the flow of the disc. While the segues sound effortless, they are not. Larry is a diligent perfectionist – or so it would seem judging from his releases – and he most likely worked the flow ardently until he got it just right. This set of relaxing and hypnotic atmospheres is flawless. Each track has its own merit and integrity. Each track is also a major ingredient of the bigger picture. They all play important roles in Larry’s musical monochromatic experiments. This solid effort is one of the year’s best CD’s.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


Texture Maps:
The Lost Pieces Vol. 3

by Steve Roach

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Texture Maps: The Lost Pieces, Vol. 3 is a set of unreleased compositions from the creative enclave of the TimeRoom, Steve Roach’s natural habitat. These eight tracks represent the emotions and feelings from significant eras over the previous 17 years of Steve’s life. The brilliance of his vision allows these pieces to flow evenly and smoothly. The continuity of the spiritual responses is stark and evident. Yes, there are several responses and, while each has its own legitimacy, they are intertwined and dependent on each other. This is atmospheric minimalism as only Steve creates. The vivid colors of the musical tones cover the entire spectrum. The shamanic qualities and overtones create warm environs for deep meditation and contemplation.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


Calling Down the Sky

by Robert Rich

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Inclement weather – in the forms of windstorms, tornadoes, torrential flood producing rains and electrical storms – followed Robert Rich across the USA on his tour in the summer of 2003. (Having been involved in promoting his Pittsburgh show on June 20, I can verify that we had flash floods all night. However, I also attended his Harrisburg performance two days later and we had a perfect early summer day.) On July 26, it “all came into focus.” Robert performed an improvised set at a “house concert” in a circle of 26 friends. He recorded it and released it as Calling Down the Sky.  

It is always difficult to describe Robert’s music and presumptuous to review it. On the other hand, there is much gratification and humility in sharing thoughts and opinions with others.

From the opening moments to the final fade, these 26 individuals had it all! The warmth and intimacy that are Robert’s most endearing traits caress the entire experience. He is able to translate that to the recorded medium. His electronics are perfect. His pedal steel sings gracefully. His flute is melodic and pure. In short, this CD is flawless. It captures the pure essence of the live e-music experience.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


True Degrees of Freedom

by Zero Ohms

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True Degrees of Freedom features Richard Roberts, a.k.a. Zero Ohms, doing what he does best – quiet introspective minimalism with depth, clarity and soul. He combines his multi-instrumental talent with some offbeat samples to create “surround sound” atmospheres. He adds a lot of layers and processes to deliver a flawless soundscape. These short to mid range (5’ to 12’) pieces have their own rhythms but are essentially beatless. Richard has very quietly and deliberately become one of the community’s brightest e-minimalists. He has risen to the perpendicular universe with this disc, one of 2003’s best!


Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


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