What will the future be like? It is impossible to tell, of course, but one thing seems certain; there will be robots! “Robot Dawn” is the third album in the Synergy Series by Clifford White. It is an upbeat and optimistic vision of the future, reminiscent of 1980s music à la Kraftwerk and various movie soundtracks. Clifford’s robots are likable and civil. Indeed, they make Elon Musk’s fear for an AI uprising seem entirely misguided. “Robot Dawn” is, in short, an impressive addition to the series.
Clifford White was only 17 years old when he debuted on New World Music in 1985 with “Ascension.” His most recent albums are “The Gods of Olympus” (2009), “Atlantis” (2010) and “The Healing Touch – Ascension II” (2010). The new series is, according to White, “an exploration of electronic music past, present, and future.” The albums are “Waterworld”, “The Speed of Silence,” “Robot Dawn,” and “Cityscape.”
Enjoy this exclusive, 24 minutes long “Robot Dawn” video.
We have, at this stage in the Synergy series, come a long way. The age of “Waterworld” is long gone, and “The Speed of Silence” took us well beyond the present. Now, as the “Robot Dawn” is upon us, it seems fitting – at least judging from today’s news headlines – that the song “Dark Future” is the album opener. And yes, it is a dark piece. But it is not about doom and destruction. No, I think it is a hopeful song. It has a nice build-up, and from the darkness, a new world order rises.
“Machine” gives us a taste of what this new reality is like. It is sci-fi music, robot voices and analogue sounding synths galore. Still, it has Clifford’s musical fingerprints all over. But it is only a small taste of what’s to come because the next track is something different. “Eastopia” is a smart and stylish futuristic vision, effortlessly combining the sound of East and West, and is one of the most beautiful songs on the Synergy Series. There are so many layers of sound, so many intricate details. If you said that it was composed by Edgar Froese (may he rest in peace) and mastered by Grammy winner Ricky Kej, I would believe it. The cherry on the top is a 1980s sounding sax. In short, a perfect piece. I’m very impressed.
“Robot Dawn” is an album of contrasts. “Subterranean” picks up where “Machine” left off. It is a funny and quirky song. But in Clifford’s music is always a melodic focus, and that is also the case here – which makes it into a quite delightful piece. If I ever pick up robot dancing, this song will be a top 5 in my playlist.
“The Third Law” is a chilled piece with a cool guitar. Again I’m amazed by the fact that Clifford is taking no short-cuts on this mega collection of music. The same can be said about “Oil and Water”; here we are taken on a grand sea voyage with flute and harp, and an angelic choir is singing high above. I very much enjoy the creative rhythm, which seems to follow the logic of the sea; each sound of the drum is like a wave, washing over us. It is all very surprising, in a 100 % delightful way.
First time I was listening to “Robot Dawn” I found myself waiting for some upbeat and quick sci-fi stuff – and lo and behold – here it is! “New Horizons” is a danceable song with a J. M. Jarre quality theme. I love the melody; Clifford is traveling all over the keyboard, making sure the melody fits the rapid rhythm. It is bold and totally without compromises.
“Investigation” is a more thoughtful song. It develops slowly, and there are some nice twists and turns along the way. Then we are rewarded with the title track – and it does not disappoint, although we have to wait 3 minutes before it starts to take shape – and another 3 minutes more for the compelling finale. “Robot Dawn” is a future vision of epic proportions. The robots come in peace, apparently, but they are immensely powerful.
I love the three songs that conclude this part of the series; “Deep Freeze” is a real winner. After a long-ish intro, some sweet beats and synths, an icy guitar takes over the stage. It is cool, in every sense of the word. “Earthrise” is another contrast, warm and inviting. This lounge music is refreshing and unmistakably Clifford White at the same time – before “Singularity” sums up “Robot Dawn” beautifully. Hard-hitting, audacious and with a laser-sharp intelligence, this song points towards the metropolis of the future: chapter four, “Cityscape.” There’s no way back, man and robots have together conquered both the Earth and space. To infinity and beyond!
In conclusion: “Robot Dawn” by Clifford White is not an album to be taken too seriously, and that is strangely its strongest point. From its playfulness, or quirkiness if you will, rises a rock-solid sci-fi album with almost endless replay possibilities. When writing this I have been listening to it off and on for almost 8 months, and I’m not putting it away anytime soon. It fits perfectly in the Synergy series, but it is also an incredible stand-alone album.
No, Elon Musk. I for one do not fear the dawn of robots. Not at all.