Ascension was Clifford White’s first album, composed and released by New World Music in 1985 when Clifford was just 17 years old.
Inspired by Clifford’s spiritual beliefs, Ascension sold over 50,000 copies worldwide, and became renowned for it’s calming and uplifting atmosphere.
To celebrate 25 years, in 2010 Clifford released a sequel to Ascension entitled The Healing Touch.
Ascension opens with Golden Sunrise, a brief anthem to the dawning of a new day, with it’s clear message of hope and optimism. A gentle brass melody and ethereal chords carry the initial melody, until joined by strings in a joyous ensemble. The singing of a lone bird adds to the dignified atmosphere, and one is left with a palpable feeling of peace and contentment.
In contrast to the optimism of the previous track, The Calling is a gentle yet melancholy ballad of wistful emotions. In some ways it feels as if Clifford is looking back on a life of memories – all the more surprising for the fact that he was only 16 years old when he write this piece of music. Flute and electric piano are joined by gossamer like strings, weaving a tale of sublime sentiment.
A gentle harp-like guitar opens Mr Elemental, which holds a dewy like innocence in it’s youthful heart. Almost as if it were a lullaby, the music soothes and becalms like a swaddled child, mellow and pure of heart in it’s mood and intent. Deeply relaxing and reassuring, it is the music of comfort, safety and home.
Church of Light is almost hymnal in it’s mood, with light clarion bell and organ heralding a proud horn melody and angelic strings. The music is both divine and humble, almost saintly in fact, and there is a distinctly devotional and faithful atmosphere present which creates a mood of reverence and sanctity.
Smooth and subtle, Eternal Dusk emerges gently from the mist like a half-remembered dream, just beyond ones conscious memory. Warm and inviting, the haunting tune weaves it’s magic across the minds horizon. Dreamy and provocative, there is a mystery at the heart of this music; a certain indefinable something that speaks of past, present and future, of memories and sorrows, of times passed, and times yet to be.
With gentle balletic piano, the title track Ascension begins. Soon joined by soft strings, the tender ambience gradually blossoms into an innocent lullaby. An emerging string section is joined by a second ensemble, and the tune flowers into a celebratory benediction of adoration and beauty.
Gentle twinkly sounds introduce Music Box Lullaby, another delightfully wistful tune with a sacred atmosphere. Strings and flute augment the plaintive mood, and the song dances gracefully to and fro in fairy-like circles, enchanting and magical. The light and airy mood becomes more reverential in Hallowed Ground, with airy chords and a sitar like motif cycling around itself like a hymnal procession. A divine and sacrosanct atmosphere is evident, and as the track draws to a close, we hear again the birdsong return from the first track of the album.
Almost as if it were a reprise, Journey’s End can be considered the Pachelbel’s Canon of the album, gently cycling around itself as the mood builds. Beginning with gentle chords and glockenspiel, the piece expands with strings and a subtle drumbeat, before blossoming fully into a joyous ballad of hope, courage and faith.
Clifford White is an inspired and talented synthesizer player who could well emerge as England’s answer to Kitaro – his recording Ascension is simply outstanding. White is a master of intriguing melody lines, as on ‘Golden Sunrise’ and ‘Journey’s End’, but also explores a wide range of musical tones and textures with his electronic equipment. […]
Recording quality is no problem for Clifford White‘s album, which is stunningly beautifully engineered. It is marvelously layered and textured, recessed like a three-dimensional model which revolves in front of us on a slow-moving turntable. There is another aspect, an emotional one, which is unique in the New Age albums I have encountered up to […]