Archive for the ‘Posts by BT Fasmer’ Category
According to one definition art is “the creation of beautiful or significant things”. A new age music album that is both beautiful and significant is Transmission by Suzanne Doucet and Christian Buehner. The album was recorded in 1983, and stands as a cornerstone in the new age music discography. It is a true masterpiece that sounds just as powerful today as it did back in the golden new age music era of the early 1980s.
When it comes to meditative music, more is usually less. Transmission has a minimalistic approach that is very soothing to the ears. The Jupiter 8 synth, which we have heard used by artists such as Jan Hammer and Tangerine Dream (and many more), creates a quite spacey soundscape. The synth has an amazing analogue sound bank, and it is being used to perfection on Transmission.
Transmission is one of two projects by the Doucet/Buehner duo (the first being the wonderful Transformation, which I will write another review about). Transmission was recorded at the Daylight Studio in Munich in 1983 – the 4 week production started on Good Friday, hence the name of the album’s first track. Good Friday is without a doubt one of the finest songs in new age music. What makes it stand above the crowd is the unique atmosphere. I have trouble describing it, you just have to experience it for yourself – but the magic seems to be in the combination of female and male vocals, the gently flowing rhythm, the ultra sharp Jupiter sounds and elements from other genres; the vocals makes me think of the 1960s for some reason. And wow, the guitars! Notice how the songs fades away gently – sounding truly divine.
Transmission is a true masterpiece that sounds just as powerful today as it did back in the golden new age music era of the early 1980s.
Track two, Shiva’s Dance, is a quite fast song. It reminds me of Brian Eno’s In Dark Trees from his masterwork Another Green World (1975), but with a more meditative atmosphere. Shiva’s is, by the way, also dancing on the wonderful cover artwork. The song Moonlight continues where Good Friday left off. It has a romantic feel with just a touch of melancholy. The Jupiter strings are marvelous (at least to analogue synth fans).
The last track, the over 12 minute long Transmission, is a like an album in itself. It is a voyage in sound that is just not to be missed; The sound effects, with dripping water and echo, is like walking into a mystical cave. It is a gentle song, perfect for meditation and relaxation.
Transmission is a true new age music classic. It is one of those few albums that I always return to – and it lifts my spirit up every time. It makes me wonder too; who ever said that new age music was one-dimensional and uninspired? They surely never got this transmission. Transmission is beautiful and significant. It is art.
The newly remastered version of the Transmission album is available on CDBaby and all other major digital music outlets. Visit Suzanne Doucet at NewAgeMusic.com & her New Age Circle Forum at NewAgeMusik.Ning.Com.
Since antiquity the whereabouts of the legendary island Atlantis has been discussed. From Plato to Francis Bacon and into today’s world, it has been a frequent topic for both scientific research and art. Atlantis is also the topic for Clifford White’s new album. Here he gives the listener a fresh perspective on the old myth. Indeed, after 65 minutes of music you feel that Atlantis has risen from the ocean and become a place in your mind you can visit and revisit again and again. So hang on, and enjoy the voyage!
Atlantis is a popular theme in New Age Music. Most prominent is musician David Arkenstone’s Atlantis: A Symphonic Journey (2004), but also Alex Herr’s synth classic from the late 1980s Atlantis Arising comes to mind. And now we can add another strong album to the list!
I was excited when I heard that Clifford White’s new album would be about Atlantis. The reason is because his previous albums concerning water are among my all time favorites. The collection An Island Called Paradise is a like a trip to a magical and relaxing island, and I make sure to recommend it as often as I can. Selected songs from it are also among the most popular on our channel New Age Stars. We must also not forget that Clifford White is used to myths and great histories; last year’s The Gods Of Olympus was an album worthy of gods.
So with this in mind I put Atlantis on my iPhone and started my musical journey.
The album opens with the title song, which starts with the sound of waves, a quiet piano melody and then something I can describe (bear with me here) as a Vangelis / Chariots of fire-like synth pluck-beat. Which is always a welcome effect! The larger-than-life strings are also here, illustrating the grandness, the light and magic of the underwater world. The song has a very nice melody, and a calming atmosphere.
Track 2, Catacombs, takes the listener even further down – into a darker world, with a faster beat and nice dripping sounds. After all, the tale of Atlantis – like the real-life story of Pompeii – is first and foremost a dramatic story. If Atlantis hadn’t disappeared, there would be no magic; what you can’t ever see, find or reach is to man always more exciting than what is readily available. Isn’t that so?
I am always fascinated by the way Clifford White changes sound from one track to the next, while the tracks still blend perfectly into each other. An example here is track 6, Time Tunnels, which is lounge in style. It has a jazzy freshness. Then it is track no. 7, Edge of the Ocean, which is laid back, has a bossa nova beat and a Vollenweider-ish electronic harp melody. This makes the album into an interesting listen.
There is no monotony or repetitiveness.
Again it is tempting to refer to Vangelis – both in style and in craftsmanship; Track no. 8, The New World, has the force of Conquest of Paradise, and lots of White’s usual magic too. The new world unveils itself before your inner eye.
Atlantis is like a box of surprises. The album closer is Exodus; an upbeat, bright piece. Here I must compare to Jean Michel Jarre’s classic Fourth Rendez-Vous. It shines bright, illustrating the overwhelming power of the Exodus.
As you can see from the references; White is here delivering a top notch album, and will once again find himself on the year’s top lists of new age albums. Atlantis is here as real as it will ever get. Bravo!
Visit CliffordWhite.co.uk to sample or purchase his new album Atlantis.
The editor notes that NewAgeMusic.nu and NewAgeMusicWorld.com are partners and supporters of Clifford White’s NewAgeMusicNews.com, but .world/nu are independent sites with no commercial ties to Clifford White/MG Music. Cover art by Medwyn Goodall – picture copyright BigStockPhoto – Regisser.com.
NewAgeMusic.nu Review by B.T. Fasmer
I’m always amazed when an artist totally changes style from one album to the next. Only a talented and versatile artist is able to express something entirely different from one release to the next. Last year Clifford White gave us the massive The Gods of Olympus, which tells the story of the principal gods of the Greek pantheon. The 71 minute long album is simply a new age music Tour de Force, an album worthy of gods.
This year Clifford White has something truly different in store for us; The Healing Touch – Ascension II. It is just as laid back and chilled as The Gods of Olympus was dramatic. In other words; totally different. White is proving that magic also is to be found in the most gentle of sounds.
Indeed, you might argue that The Healing Touch is not all new. This is because it actually is the sequel to one of the most successful new age music titles of all time: Clifford White’s debut album Ascension (New World Music, 1985). This album did not have a subtitle about healing like the new release, but nevertheless people all over the world has been aware of the album’s healing properties since it was released back in the golden age of new age music. It truly is a pillar, both in the genre and in Clifford White’s discography.
Clifford White is proving that magic also is to be found in the most gentle of sounds.
What makes The Healing Touch so special are the carefully crafted layers of sound. Like on all White’s releases there are strong melodic elements – the lead instruments here are flute, harp, synth, bright piano and a nice selection of analogue sounding synths. But that is just one layer. In the background, much less audible, are quite extraordinary synth strings and bass effects that just takes my breath away (yes, I know, I’m a 80s type of synth fan – and proud of it ). This is where the gentleness and healing is to be found. Most tracks are without a distinct drum beat (except for track six, Divination) – which makes it great for massage or chill out sessions after a hard day at work.
There are two types of tracks on The Healing Touch album. One is the chilled and positive type (for instance track 3, Luna). The other one is the almost sacral, larger-than-life type that makes one think of Vangelis’ best moments or Patrick o’Hearn (for instance track 2, Eternity, or track 9, The Answer). White’s magic is in the combination of these two worlds of sound, creating a package that is simply irresistible. Here Clifford White is just as chilled as on his compilation, An Island Called Paradise.
It is hard to select one favorite track on the album, but I instantly fell for track 3, Luna. It makes me think of Tangerine Dream’s new material, and it is just as good – the piano part in the end is played with force and integrity. I’m sure Edgard Froese would agree. I also enjoyed the very deep bass and light high hat rhythm.
Last year’s album, The Gods of Olympus, is just so impressive and complex – but clearly not for everyone. In this way The Healing Touch is different; this is an album that almost everyone will find enjoyable. It is just so relaxing, so warm. After all, we all need a healing touch from time to time…
Sample Ascension – The Healing Touch at CliffordWhite.co.uk. Picture montage copyright Clifford White.
Review from NewAgeMusic.nu by B.T. Fasmer.
Greek mythology continues to amaze new generations. The tales of gods and heroes, and the battle between good and evil, have had an extensive influence on culture. From the epic poems The Iliad and Odyssey, to modern interpretations of the Age of Gods, Greek mythology will forever be a part of civilization.
The Gods Of Olympus is the title of Clifford White’s first solo album in over 14 years. After a very successful new age music career in the 80s and 90s, I think his return just had to be powerful. But that it would be a journey of epic proportions was beyond my imagination. Believe me; what Clifford White has in store for us is incredible. It is a climb to the top of Mount Olympus that you don’t want to miss.
Clifford White released a total of eight solo albums between 1985 and 1995. His debut album Ascension, recorded before he was 20 years old, is one of the definitive new age classic of the ’80s. I hold the compilation An Island Called Paradise from 2003 to be among the finest new age music ever created – and songs like Rain Trek and Amazonia are among the highest rated on New Age Stars radio.
So when Clifford White now is back with a brand new album, with the principal gods of the Greek pantheon as a theme, expectations are high; that goes without saying. But in my opinion he has given us something that was well worth the wait.
As mentioned above, references to Greek mythology is everywhere to be found in modern civilization. From literature and poetry, via paintings and sculpture, to classical music. Either you listen to Holst, Wagner, Gluck, R. Strauss or Offenbach, the tales of strength and courage from the Greek mythology are all there, adding power to the musical narrative. Just by thinking of Zeus you can almost hear the sound of a 200-man-orchestra, playing at full force. But this is not the case in new age music, not at all. Such references are not frequently used. To add some perspective; there are only a few Egyptian themed albums released (by Goodall, Thornton and Ramzy, Diane Arkenstone). So this may very well be the first Greek mythology album – but please do correct me if I am wrong!
The Gods Of Olympus album has 14 tracks, and is over 70 minutes long. The overall style is clearly inspired of Vangelis, both in synth use (esp. the layers of strings), melody and atmosphere, and the opening track is not unlike 1492: Conquest of Paradise theme. But that said, Vangelis got his inspiration from chord progression in classical music – so White is welcome to reuse it, and there is no better occasion than this. It is after all a larger-than-life theme.
Track no. 1 is the introduction track, Gods of Olympus. It has a nice build up, and the synths sound fantastic. This is movie music for sure! The next one out, Aphrodite, is the longest track on the album with its 7min20sec. It is like the Goddess of Love and Beauty herself; she is rising from the sea, with a beauty that is as mesmerizing as it is dangerous.
After this mighty impressive but also somewhat heavy opening , Apollo, the god of light and the sun, greats us. This is more the style new age music fans think of when they hear the name Clifford White. It is as shining as the day’s first sun rays on the top of Mount Olympus. Then, out of the mists, Ares - the god of war, emerges with his helmet and shield. The track masterfully describes the duality of war; the struggle, suffering and death – but also its central meaning in human civilization, even necessity. The cycle of life defined by the sword.
On the following tracks Clifford White gives an interesting musical presentation of all the gods of the Olympian deities; the god of the hunt, the god of heroic endeavor, the god of flight and so on. It is really a massive selection of songs. It is really like a double CD. Here you’ll also find a song with a wonderful Greek sound to it; Dionysus (the god of wine and merriment). Not to have some Greek sounding song here would have been considered blasphemy I guess… And it is the dramatic Hermes, the god of flight.
The Gods Of Olympus without a doubt a new masterpiece from White, just like Ascension was in 1985.
The Gods Of Olympus is really a new age music treasure chest. If this was a novel, it would have had more than 1000 pages for sure. In the world of literature it is not uncommon that a successful author returns after 10 to 15 years of silence with a brick of a book. This is the new age music equivalent of that phenomenon.
I must mention that the CD booklet contains a very nice photomontage of the artist at work in the studio. You can see that Clifford is playing on synths, carefully adjusting, listening, reading, searching for that perfect sound. It is a picture of a new age music artist in total control; this is his domain. Very inspiring indeed!
If this was a novel, it would have had more than 1000 pages for sure.
The Gods Of Olympus without a doubt a new masterpiece from White, just like Ascension was in 1985. It is not easy listening, even though some parts are quite chill out in style. It requires something from the listener. But don’t worry; the gods will reward you.
To quote Sophocles: The dice of Zeus always fall luckily. I am tempted to change Zeus with White in that quote…
Sample the album on medwyngoodall.net. Picture copyright rgbdave – Bigstockphoto.com.