Throughout Votive (70’10”), the long-awaited studio album by Chuck van Zyl, he is heard continuously connecting with a profound love of sound. Across its three diverse tracks he realizes an exquisitely detailed Electronic Spacemusic. Each movement comes at you in a trek of tone, a hunt of harmony, a torrent of timbre. Yet, informed listeners will hear unity in the arrangement and the meaningful message it means to convey.
Votive ignites with the track The Western Gate (24’30”). Building monumental musical structures from layers of mechanized motifs, this star synth-smith signals feelings of certainty, possibility and potential. In the headlong drive of spiraling sequencer runs ratcheting patterns ascend in a striding motor-motion of echoing notes. Settling into a subtle Berlin-School clockwork, questing melodic lines bestow a heightened sensitivity to the promises of life.
The composition Vigil (22’50”) could not be more different. In a slowly unfolding ambient elsewhere each atonal shape shudders, then falls into place. In stirring sparks and charged currents this extended abstract wandering maintains a pristine musical surface. Negotiating a delicate balance between the questioning and the consoling, a secret sonic life is explored. Resounding in the resonance of memory, here the psychological terrain of the musician may be most truly felt.
Where the Woodbine Twineth (22’50”) leads us into a soft cosmos. Spare, but expressively pointed, a substantial atmosphere hovers. Progressing into stretches of luxurious chords and spacey, shimmering accents we encounter a tranquil zone for drifting and thinking. The poetry of its sustaining themes and expressive shades of sound sanction a magical release of thought. With a firm grasp of tonal organization and musical structure, craft, artistry and hidden cognitions are revealed.
Reveling in what he has made, Chuck van Zyl remains sensitive to the promises of the Kosmische Musik genre – and shines brightly within his music. A work such as Votive asks the genre to go further, and is an enormous gift to the discipline. Navigating the trackless void of space as thoroughly as it does the inner realm, Votive explores ideas of proportion and scale. As creative energy moves from the artist’s interior to that of the audience, in this action both spheres may find their peace, beauty and meaning.
Limited edition of 300 copies packaged in a six panel digipak.
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