Concert Review

Ma Ja Le and Jeff Pearce
Saturday, March 6th, 199 at St. Mary's Church, Penn Campus

I know I'm not objective enough to comment one my own set, but I WILL say that the Ma Ja Le set was VERY well done. They had a LOT of gear-instruments and synths and processors all over the stage, and they used EVERYTHING that they brought. The result was some really great music.

Their set consisted of three long songs (I think this is correct- I was coming out of the standard stage fright mode and was scouring St. Mary's in a futile search for some food). The sound system REALLY brought out some very minute and wonderful details in Ma Ja Le's music- during the quiet parts, their sound just seemed to float in the air. Of course, they also had some wonderful percussion parts- both sequenced/pre-recorded and live parts- that really locked together wonderfully and shook the church. I was really impressed with how Paul Vnuk jr. and Chris Short worked off of each other, and integrated their songs into the big, flowing soundscape- I believe I heard parts of the songs "Imaginarium" and "Incomprehensivable Love" during the set, but the main "flow" of the set was unreleased, hopefully not for long, though, because they played some fantastic new music!

For their encore, the guys in Ma Ja Le were so kind as to ask me to sit in with them, and I was pleased and honored to do so.

The Gathering crowd of around 100 responded wonderfully to Ma Ja Le, and for good reason- they played excellent music! The only downside to the evening was the dreary, rainy weather. But everything else was superb- and I'd personally like to thank the folks that attended for making the Gathering such a good experience. And Chuck van Zyl- what a great guy. The people in Philly are blessed to have someone like him that is so behind this kind of music. He worked so hard to make sure everything went well, and it did.

Review by Jeff Pearce
March 9th, 1999

I can only basically comment on the output, and sometimes that is very hard to do. I can say this, though. This Gathering, IMHO, was the most sublime live musical experience I've ever attended. Jeff Pearce played about five of his sonic guitar pieces, the latter two unreleased. One of these two was called "In the Metaphor of Rain?" and to accent the spirit of the entire evening a thunderstorm hit the area during this piece, adding surreal ambiance. I believe Jeff's final piece was called "At the Gates of Heaven", forgive me if I'm wrong there, which will be the title track for his forthcoming album. Jeff amused the audience explaining his kitchen table knifing technique he uses on his guitar, creating a unique slide guitar effect, as the discovery not of his, but of his 18 month daughter. A chip off the old block. Most kids usually mix stuff like chocolate and peanut butter.

I can't exalt enough the performance of Paul Vnuk and Chris Short. Ma Ja Le transcended the entire audience. Ma Ja Le would have taken care of that for you (even though Chuck Van Zyl mentioned that the pair drove all the way to Philly from Wisconsin). The boys did manage to alert the audience at once point, however. They sure had lured this dreamy listener to the lowest of levels when they unsubtly exploded into a wonderful rhythm track. Whoa! Any paramedics in the house? Ma Ja Le played the most disciplined tranquil Gathering sets I've seen to date and I've been to several, if not most. Hopefully some others will add to what I experienced, because to be honest I'm at a loss for words. Heavenly...

March 9th, 1999

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