The last place you’d think would be the home base of one of the most prolific and forward-thinking ambient/new age music record labels is Indianapolis, Indiana. But then again, why not? Past Inside The Present has proven to be a most prolific home to the world’s finest purveyors of ambient/new age, putting out music by zakè, From Overseas, City of Dawn, Marine Eyes, James Bernard, Drum & Lace, 36, plus many others. The sounds are subtle, ethereal, and very much a sonic salve for the mind, body, and spirit.
I’ve personally found great comfort from this Midwest record label.
On February 18th of this year zakè, Marc Ertel, James Bernard, and From Overseas got together at the historic Gothic Chapel, located at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana and put on a sublime live show. For those that couldn’t attend Past Inside The Present has now released the show as a live album experience. Multi-track recorded direct from the soundboard we now have Live at the Gothic Chapel, a tour-de-force live LP that puts the listener in the hallowed halls of the Gothic Chapel on that cool February evening. It’s 8 tracks of pure sonic and meditative beauty.
I’m a lifelong Hoosier, having been born in Goshen, Indiana and raised 30 minutes south of there in Warsaw. Indianapolis felt like a lifetime away from where I grew up, but in reality it’s not much more than a couple hours south(that is if you take US 31 and let your lead foot do the driving.) As it happened, my wife and I were in Indianapolis on February 18th for a Percussion and Ensemble competition to cheer on our son. When I realized we could have easily made the show and experienced the magic that occurred at Crown Hill Cemetery in person I was more than a little disappointed. With Live at the Gothic Chapel I can ease a bit of that disappointment. Lights turned low in the living room, candles lit, needle drops on the wax and I can put myself there as zakè, Marc Ertel, James Bernard, and From Overseas create walls of transcendent sound.
Each song opens a portal to some kind of enlightened presence. There’s a reason these songs seem so powerful in a chapel, as they elicit a feeling that there’s more to our existence than we realize. A higher power? I don’t know, but what these electronic pieces do is make me not so much of a pessimist when one brings up such things. There’s a lightness in songs like “Signaling” and the sublime “Wanderlust”. The air becomes rarified that surrounds these songs; it’s as if you’re breathing in something ancient yet newborn.
Nothing tips the scales past the 8 minute mark, with neither “Lament For Strings I” or “Lament For Strings III” barely cracking 2 1/2 minutes. They both feel like interludes between time and space, as opposed to ethereal breathers between the longer pieces. “Knowledge Rooms, Pt I & II” sounds like some New Age, atavistic tome that you’d hear in a crystalline hall echoing across blue skies and cumulonimbus peaks. It’s a moving experience, from first piece to last.
Live at the Gothic Chapel hearkens back to the shows early Tangerine Dream would put on in Gothic churches and cathedrals; sitting on concrete floors, twisting knobs, bending circuits, and blowing minds(Live At Reims Cathedral is essential listening.) zakè, Marc Ertel, James Bernard, and From Overseas lock into that kind of magic here, evoking a kind of peaceful transcendence in front of a live audience. Giving them not just a concert, but a true experience.
My hope is that Past Inside The Present can set up another show at some point, as I will be there for sure. If not, well I’ll always have Live at the Gothic Chapel to revisit.