As host of the STAR'S END radio program, Chuck van Zyl has been quietly pointing out complex connections between musical forms for over 30 years. As organizer of The Gatherings Concert Series his task is to actualize an intimate creative space for innovative musicians and their audience. His photographic artistry is highly personal, rendering images from a range of light invisible to humans. Playing in the duo The Ministry of Inside Things he collaborates with guitarist Art Cohen to produce a unified concert sound out of unique individual influences and innovation. A largely unfamiliar chapter in the creative life of Chuck van Zyl is the area of his own solo music. While two self-titled CDs are credited, after
nearly thirty years of music making MemorySpace (73'58") is truly his first album release; as all previous output has been either compilations of early cassette-only titles or in collaboration with other musicians.
MemorySpace has not ventured far from his original sound - beginning again from first principles. But now, with such a wider and evolved perspective on music and life, this new music seems more vivid. The past has always conversed with the future, and to portray MemorySpace as strictly "Berlin-School" would be limiting. It is a fresh look at Spacemusic as van Zyl carries the memory of his monumental predecessors' sense of space and mystery all the while forging a distinct authorial voice. Referencing the crystalline sequencer lines of Klaus Schulze's "Crystal Lake", the motorized pulse of Edgar Froese's "Epsilon in Malaysian Pale", warm chords and lilting melodies found on "Wunjo" by Giles Reaves, "The Polar Drones" by Erik Wollo and "Mountains" by Thom Brennan, the music on MemorySpace is extremely comfortable to take in - feeling as if on a long journey to several new moody electronic destinations. The listening experience is episodic, with each of the nine tracks a distinctive aural vignette. From its driving echo patterns skipping beneath full-throated synth leads and crisp arpeggio bells amidst soft flutes, ethereal choirs and potent strings, to its somber thought tones and dark atmospherics, MemorySpace is a mature work - but one where a youthful exuberance may still be heard.
While the CD's cover art photography may reference the departed, with this musical work Chuck van Zyl is fully expressing his life - however far apart from the world he may stand. Scattered influences coalesce beautifully as van Zyl brings a deep melancholic humanity to an art that traditionally focused more on the world of music technology. With its dreamy brilliance and fatal naivete MemorySpace is where the soul of man never dies.