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Everlasting Moment
by "The Ministry of Inside Things" (Chuck van Zyl and Art Cohen)
Synkronos Music, 2003

        This album is not only fun to listen to, but it brings back
pleasant memories of the golden age of prog-rock without being "dated."
The long-haired duo calling itself the "Ministry of Inside Things"
includes Chuck Van Zyl on synthesizers and keyboards, and Art Cohen on
electric guitar. This 2-CD set presents the "best moments" of a number
of live concerts which they played in 2002, mostly in Pennsylvania.
Their styles range from hard-driving synthesizer rock in the timeless
(at least since the '70s) German manner, to spacey Dead-style
mind-trips, to long-winding guitar heroics in a classic, modal style.
You may already know Chuck Van Zyl as the impresario of the "Gatherings"
ambient concerts held in Philadelphia one or two times a year.

        It's always nice to hear a time-honored style done right. The
sounds that Cohen brings are all familiar, even including echo machine
twiddling, feedback howls and weird string-plinking usually associated
with, uh, altered states. But that doesn't necessarily mean either
"boring" or "trite."  I am much impressed with Cohen's clear, powerful
melodic lines, articulated against the synthesizer's accompaniment. He
can ramble solo for quite a long time. They follow the style of
switching the synthesizer pattern's key every so often, and Cohen's
improvisation keeps it fresh

        The best moment in the album, in my opinion, comes on CD 2, at
the end of track three, "Contour Adjustment," which flows into the
beginning of track 4, "Hibernation Dreams." I don't know whether these
two pieces were from the same moment at the same concert; it would be
perfect if they were. This transition flows exquisitely from atonal
noise to a single, soft minor chord, and then a thoughtful, slightly
melancholy return to a slow synthesizer pattern with Cohen's guitar
smoothly sustaining notes over it. In fact, it's one of the finest
passages in ambient music I've heard for quite a long time.

        As a kind of afterthought, and to erase any doubt as to who they
admire, the last cut on CD 2 is called "Grateful," and features a
loving, guitar-rich tribute to Jerry Garcia, his band, and the languid
nostalgia of their sunlit dreamworld. The album closes with a surprise
"environmental" soundclip of a real carillon, which I suspect was in the
bell-tower of one of the concert venues. There's a lot here to like.
Just think of this album as "classical music" of the last century,
played beautifully by modern musicians.

Hannah M. G. Shapero 4/26/04

The Ministry of Inside Things Everlasting Moments 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! ~ -Jim Brenholts




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