a m b i e n t e l s e w h e r e r e v i e w s
a m b i e n t e l s e w h e r e
The Philadelphia based Spacemusic duo The Ministry of Inside Things exist outside the confines of the recording studio and in the realm of the live performance. As MoIT, Art Cohen (guitar) and Chuck van Zyl (synths) continue a tradition of bringing an otherwise methodical studio based artform out into the spontaneity of the performance environment. Their third CD Ambient Elsewhere feels dark and isolated when compared to their two earlier releases. While Everlasting Moment explored the edges, dynamics and tension of space and atmosphere, and Contact Point embraced the more unified themes of cosmic, biospheric and macrocosmic interaction, Ambient Elsewhere moves through a strange new territory in-between and outside of traditional Spacemusic. Drawn from a range of chilling themes, this album sonifies wintertime, desolate landscapes and the soul's midnight. Moving through the timbral badlands of the empty quarter, Ambient Elsewhere offers up a courageous intimacy. Always bringing their own influences and innovation to the music process, MoIT produces a sound that is uniquely individual and personal.
The Ministry of Inside Things released a double CD at their performance at The Gatherings Concert Series on 20 September 2008. The music from Ambient Elsewhere has been drawn from several recent tour performances and features definitive live versions of classic MoIT pieces like "Love Attack" and "Naylor's Run". The album contains two one hour long suites of spacemusic and easily flows through a variety of themes, energy levels and styles.
Synkronos Music - 20 September 2008
Aside from hosting the long-running STAR'S END radio show, and staging Philadelphia's inimitable Gatherings series of electronic music events, Chuck van Zyl is an accomplished synthesist in his own right, and sorely neglected to boot. His Synkronos label hosted much of his own work (often cloaked under numerous aliases), either solo or in collaboration with other local musicians; the many cassettes Synkronos released in the 90s are now (rightly so) much sought-after collector's items. In tandem with experimental guitarist Art Cohen as The Ministry of Inside Things, Ambient Elsewhere is the duo's third album, a two-disc pack recorded live at various venues in and around the Philly domain. The jury's out as to whether van Zyl and Cohen's finest moments ultimately arise in the breathy company of avid enthusiasts - nevertheless, studio-bound or not, their synchronous talents are duly crystallized herein. Inspiration still comes from areas Teutonic, nee Berlinesque, of course, but the disc's stellar, often bravura, moments categorically blast "influences" to smithereens. Serious they may be as they plug in and coax glimmering textures from their respective instruments, but clearly the duo revel in sculpting these myriad, grandiose soundscapes. Van Zyl makes optimal use of mellotron and numerous string synths, particularly on "Science Fiction," around which ghostly voices curdle and moog sprites engage in hushed reverences. "Dubzilla" and its cousin "Markzilla" effect reasonably yeoman mergers of contemporary IDM squish and Gottschingy guitar, Cohen's massaged chords things of dappled beauty. "Poor Alice" finds the mellotron returning in force, buttressed by pinging bass figures and an insistent, sinister pulse. Disc two's opening "Aphelion Season" works more scare tactics into the mix, van Zyl's electronics trading East Asian chimes with sounds of vast, cavernous natures. However, the eleven minute "Icicle Falls" is where Cohen really gets to shine, picking out gentle Frippian arpeggios amidst a qualitative backbeat and morningsun synths. In fact, if anything underscores what this dynamic duo achieve on Ambient Elsewhere it's an enormous variety of sound and vision, light on categorical baggage, heavy on imagistic ballast. If ever these two gents can bulk up their catalog's largesse, synth clergy the world over will be flocking for a glimpse of Things Inside.
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