The Ministry of Inside Things, consisting of electronic musician Chuck van Zyl and electric guitarist Art Cohen, are considered among the most innovative of US synthesists today. Influenced by the early music of Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Ash Ra Tempel, their spacemusic has been described as linear, leading the listener across many sonic terrains. Based on improvisation, The Ministry of Inside Things creates electronic realizations that flow from theme to theme, with the experience often lasting up to two hours. Through use of textures and atmospheres as well as harmony, rhythm and melody, the group transports the audience on an internal sonic excursion.
van Zyl has been recording electronic music and performing live for more than 20 years but is best known for hosting one of the country's most successful radio shows of electronic music, STAR'S END, for the past 27 years. van Zyl has released two CDs of spacemusic on the Centaur label, Celestial Mechanics and The Relic as well as a collaborative effort with Peter Gulch, Regeneration Mode on Synkronos and The Sound Museum with Gulch and Rath on Groove Ltd. Art Cohen has been pushing the limits of the electric guitar in the studio and in live performance for well over 15 years.
The Ministry Of Inside Things has performed live at "Art & Technology" at The Philadelphia Museum of Art, "First Night Wilmington", the "Wild Talents" opening reception at the ICA and as part of Voices Beyond the Dome, Gate To Moon Base Alpha and the Gatherings concert series'.
MoIT's 2008 concerts include performances at The Sellersville Theater (opening for The California Guitar Trio), The Gatherings Concert Series, STAR'S END Ambient Radio and NOCTURNAL TRANSMISSIONS. Please access the Concert Announcement for more details.
Ambient Elsewhere feels dark and isolated when compared to the two earlier releases by The Ministry of Inside Things. 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 their new 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.
Ambient Elsewhere, Contact Point and Everlasting Moment are available at:
Ambient Elsewhere is also available at CD Baby
Contact Point is also available at CD Baby
Everlasting Moment is also available at CD Baby
Reviews and Previews
"Wow, time flies when you're spacing out".
Annonymous Female Concert Attendee - 15 March 2008
- Learned Insight
The Ministry of Inside Things's music is a mind-altering sensory experience that takes the sounds
of old school electronics and propels them forward into the 21st century... the modal interplay of synth and electric guitar with a background of hypnotic sequencers creates a new world of collective consciousness.
Steve Kornicki - composer & producer
- Musicpicks - The Ministry of Inside Things
"He's hosted WXPN's Star's End for 26 years. Played ambient music live for 20 years. Has been booking like-minded synth heads for his Gathering concerts for 14 years. Maybe it's time you did something for Chuck Van Zyl. Start by paying into his and guitarist Art Cohen's improvisational space-duo The Ministry of Inside Things. One, because MoIT, in its decade-plus existence, hasn't played out too much. Two, because MoIT's dense, high whines and low room-rumbling-a bubbly, dublike mix of Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and King Tubby-must be experienced live to be felt. (That said, they've got a brand new live CD, Contact Point, that offers ready, raw contradiction in vividly pulsing tunes like "Fortescue.") Lastly, because this show benefits The Corporation for Innovative Music and Arts of Pennsylvania. That's fine. But do it for Chuck."
A.D. Amorosi - The Philadelphia City Paper: 18 May 2005
- The Ambient Ping: 21 June 2005
"On Tuesday, June 21st, The Ministry of Inside Things (electronic musician Chuck van Zyl and electric guitarist Art Cohen) ascended from Philly resplendent in white - white tuxedos and top hats, that is. They started things off with an uptempo piece that evolved into moodier terrain deep into the first set. The second set was incredible: beautiful, emotional, resonant. General Chaos Visuals added to the dynamic performance, once again out-doing themselves with the complex textures and rich colours they've been developing since the New Year. After the show, Chuck van Zyl explained how playing live is crucial to the evolution of The Ministry of Inside Things' music: "We come up with an idea, take it to the stage and then go deeper through playing." He emphasized that, "We couldn't achieve the same thing in the studio. Playing in front of an audience brings it into focus, into sharp relief."
Luna Tek - THE AMBiENT PiNG LiST: 26 June 2005
- Gate to Moonbase Alpha: 20 February 2004
"Two guys in blindingly white suits, shoes and tophats (one of which looked exactly like the Mad Hatter's hat in Alice in Wonderland) played excellent trippy and melodic harmonious trance for just under an hour, not nearly long enough. The Ministry of Inside Things, Art Cohen and Chuck van Zyl on guitar and synthesizers, have those spacey and throbbing sounds that make you imagine you're back in the sixties again on a particularly mellow mescaline trip. At times reminiscent of the early Kitaro (compliment, IMHO), these guys are one of the best acts I've heard and seen at the Rotunda".
Benseraglio2 - The Mail Archive (Culture): 21 February 2004
- Musicpicks - The Ministry of Inside Things
"Get past The Ministry of Inside Things Sagan-talk of cosmos and chaos, and what you have is a decade's worth of Berlin-inspired space music that's uniquely and intricately American. With leaps into dub and unending improvisation, Chuck van Zyl (synths) and Art Cohen (guitar) create a constant ellipsis of movement, intimate and warm yet coolly isolated, like to your favorite chillout mixtape. Van Zyl, a vet of the ambient electronic scene, is known for his "Star's End" radio program (WXPN), his Gatherings showcases along St. Mary's Walk at Penn and a spacy ethos that includes [the albums] Regeneration Mode and The Sound Museum. From the sound of their first recorded effort, the two-CD Everlasting Moment (Synk), it seems that a greater sense of rhythmic synthesis is at work -- the glissando-twinkling highs and dark roomy lows exist within the same pure-space pulse. It's Ash Ra Tempel, The Orb and Augustus Pablo all in one frothy, slow-moving place. Moment is like any MoIT concert: daringly diverse in its lengths and quiet hooks and unafraid of improvisations that you can hum."
A.D. Amorosi - The Philadelphia City Paper: 19 February 2004
- Gate to Moonbase Alpha: 13 December 2002
"Chuck and Art, wondering no doubt, by night's end, why they had named themselves The Ministry of Inside Things, were wonderful. They launched off the evening with some brand new material, much of this hour long piece being rather abstract (though truly down-to-earth in comparison to what would transpire with later acts); mixed, almost discreetly, with signature MoIT-type sequences. The piece opened and concluded softly with a common theme, quite a beautiful one in fact, a full circle musical journey eventually realized. The last thing we heard, as the set drifted off into nothingness, were spring peepers. Spring peepers, in my (unread) book, lend to assure any spacemusic piece becoming an instant classic.
soma611 - Spacemusic list: 15 December 2002
- Gate to Moonbase Alpha: 13 December 2002
"Featuring two long-standing champions of improvised sound, the experimental music gathering Gate to Moonbase Alpha brings an unyielding assortment of artists to pioneer their ideas of measure. Tonight is a rare chance to experience famed local duo the Ministry of Inside Things' emotional soundscapes live. With their brand of the thinking man's electronic music, the Ministry carved a (softly lit) path over the last decade for local ephemeral knob tweakers. Often relying on the sparse arrangement of a stringed instrument, a synth and otherworldly inspiration, guitarist Art Cohen and electronic musician Chuck van Zyl engage audience members in atmospheric live sets reminiscent of early Tangerine Dream recordings. Rounding out tonight's roster of melodic challengers is ..."
Suzann Vogel - The Philadelphia Weekly: 11 Dec 2002
- Electronic Duo MoIT Goes Outside The Lines
"...The Ministry of Inside Things specializes in long, soothing aural journeys that allow adventurous listeners to travel wherever their minds decide...", "such open-ended sounds require more inclusive activity on the part of the ears and brains they reach...", "...(the) live performances of the duo's lengthy works depends on a strong feeling of intangible communion with the listener..."
John Terlesky - The Morning Call: 20 June 2002
"MoIT proceeded to fill our heads with two sets of great electronic music. Each set was a single piece of music lasting for about an hour. Each set included multiple segments of sequencer-driven, classic Berlin School music between sections of slowly developing layers of sound. Art Cohen (guitar) clearly showed that the electric guitar has a solid place in electronic music. I have all the MoIT CD's (there are 3...and they seemed to sell well in the lobby), and I never realized how much of the sound that I heard from MoIT was coming from Art's guitar."
Vince LeGrand - Tadream list: 30 June 2002
MoIT has available limited edition CD-Rs of certain live performances. Please access the specifications tables for more information about these three releases.
The Ministry of Inside Things limited edition CD-Rs:
- CD-R1: Live at The Institute of Contemporary Art 20 March 1998
- CD-R2: Live at The Philadelphia Museum of Art 16 September 1998
- CD-R3: Live on GALACTIC TRAVELS Radio 12 July 2001
Email Updates :
Updates about The Ministry of Inside Things are now available from Yahoo! Groups. Sign up for the periodic email newsletter containing details on concerts, tours, new releases, reviews, interviews, articles and downloads:
M o I T - Live Concerts
- 06.15.96 WWUH Benefit/Ambience In The Wilde, West Hartford, CT
- 06.28.96 The Gatherings, Philadelphia, PA
- 06.29.96 Cloudwatch, Baltimore, MD
- 03.02.97 The Gatherings, Philadelphia, PA
- 12.31.97 First Night Wilmington, Wilmington, DE
- 03.20.98 Susan Hiller: Wild Talents Opening Reception, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA
- 09.16.98 Art + Technology, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
- 12.17.99 Gate To Moon Base Alpha, Philadelphia, PA
- 12.01.00 Boyertown Planetarium, Gilbertsville, PA
- 01.28.01 STAR'S END WXPN Philadelphia, PA
- 07.12.01 GALACTIC TRAVELS WDIY Bethlehem, PA
- 12.14.01 Brenner's Brew Coffee House, Bridgeton, NJ
- 01.13.02 STAR'S END WXPN Philadelphia, PA
- 01.18.02 Gate To Moon Base Alpha, Philadelphia, PA
- 06.14.02 Jim's Mustang Lounge, Atco, NJ
- 06.18.02 The Ambient Ping, Toronto, ON
- 06.20.02 GALACTIC TRAVELS, WDIY Bethlehem, PA
- 06.22.02 Soundscapes Concert Series, The Icehouse, Bethlehem, PA
- 06.28.02 NOCTURNAL TRANSMISSIONS WPRB, Princeton, NJ
- 08.11.02 The Gatherings CD Release Party, Philadelphia, PA
- 12.13.02 Gate To Moon Base Alpha, Philadelphia, PA
- 12.31.02 Jim's Mustang Lounge, Atco, NJ
- 01.24.03 Brenner's Brew Coffee House, Bridgeton, NJ
- 01.26.03 STAR'S END WXPN Philadelphia, PA
- 01.31.03 Third Floor From The Sun, Oh'Hara's, Gloucester City, NJ
- 02.02.03 DELICIOUS AGONY, Internet Radio
- 11.15.03 The Gatherings Concert Series, Philadelphia, PA
- 01.30.04 Third Floor From The Sun, Oh Hara's, Gloucester City, NJ
- 02.13.04 Brenner's Brew Coffee House, Bridgeton, NJ
- 02.15.04 STAR'S END, WXPN Philadelphia, PA
- 02.20.04 Gate To Moonbase Alpha, Philadelphia, PA
- 03.03.04 ECHOES Living Room Concert
- 03.05.04 Novins Planetarium, Tom's River, NJ
- 03.11.04 Cumberland County College, Vineland, NJ
- 03.12.04 Cumberland County College, Vineland, NJ
- 03.13.04 Cosmic Coffee House, Crosswicks, NJ
- 07.08.04 Garfield Artworks, Pittsburgh, PA
- 07.10.04 Feedback Concert Series, UCAL, Philadelphia, PA
- 07.22.04 GALACTIC TRAVELS, WDIY Bethlehem, PA
- 07.23.04 Beck's Decks, Bridgeton, NJ
- 08.08.04 AtmoStreams, Internet Radio
- 12.24.04 ECHOES "Sonic Seasonings" Living Room Concert
- 01.28.05 NOCTURNAL TRANSMISSIONS WPRB in Princeton, NJ
- 01.30.05 STAR'S END WXPN Philadephia, PA
- 02.09.05 THE NOD WKDU Philadelphia, PA
- 02.18.05 Gate to Moonbase Alpha, Philadelphia, PA
- 03.05.05 Cosmic Coffeehouse, Crosswicks, NJ
- 03.11.05 Brenner's Brew Coffee House, Bridgeton, NJ
- 03.18.05 Novins Planetarium Tom's River, NJ
- 03.19.05 STAR'S END Fundraiser Premium Concert Philadelphia, PA
- 06.21.05 The Ambient Ping, Toronto, Ontario Canada
- 06.23.05 Paradigm Cafe, Henrietta, NY
- 06.25.05 Henry G Buhl Jr Planetarium, Pittsburgh, PA
- 07.03.05 Beck's Decks, Bridgeton, NJ
- 07.09.05 Feedback Concert Series UCAL, Philadelphia, PA
- 07.11.05 Macro Mondays, Wilmington, DE
- 05.20.06 The Gatherings Concert Series, Philadelphia, PA
- 06.06.06 The Ambient Ping, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- 06.09.06 Henry J Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh, PA
- 06.10.06 The Whitaker Center, Harrisburg, PA
- 06.15.06 GALACTIC TRAVELS, WDIY Bethlehem, PA
- 06.16.06 NOCTURNAL TRANSMISSIONS, WPRB Princeton, NJ
- 07.02.06 STAR'S END, WXPN Philadelphia, PA
- 07.03.07 Beck's Decks, Bridgeton, NJ
- 09.14.07 The Tin Angel, Philadelphia, PA
- 06.13.07 WITF, Harrisburg, PA
- 06.13.07 The Whitaker Center, Harrisburg, PA
- 06.16.07 STAR'S END 30th Anniversary Celebration, Philadelphia, PA
- 07.08.07 STAR'S END, WXPN Philadelphia