Having listened a few times to this new album by Clifford White, his first since “Myths of the Rock” in 1995, here are some of my thoughts:
Firstly, in addition to the immaculate presentation (nifty cover art and interior photos of the studio), the sound production, to my ears, is top notch. The music really benefits from an overall clarity and an agreeably “spacious” sound. All the different layers of instrumentation in each track are mixed together very well — you can hear everything that is going on.
Two tracks that I really like are actually next to each other in the running order. “Athena” (No. 6) is just absolutely superb. Like a number of pieces it is reminiscent of Vangelis; this one brings to mind the “Bladerunner” score for some reason. It kind of has that exotic atmosphere about it, like a soundtrack to an imaginary movie. “Athena” has an evocative and haunting quality. The following track, “Demeter” (No. 7), exhibits a nice, laid back groove that underscores a catchy melody. It’s a very positive, feel-good, relaxed piece, in some contrast to the dark intensity of the previous track.
And these two gems encapsulate what I see as two sides to this album: the sweeping, majestic orchestral passages and the more laid back, melodic stuff. Of course, many tracks deftly combine these two elements.
Other standout tracks are the filmic “Ares” (No. 4), which again, could easily be from a soundtrack by that Greek maestro; “Artemis” (No. 5), with its dance beat, funky bass line, lush synth chords and delightful melodies (can you tell I really like this one? ); the playful and mysterious Eastern flavour of “Dionysus” (No. 8); and finally the stately, studied beauty of “Hestia” (No. 12).
These are just a few I’ve picked out. Some of the more textural, ambient pieces perhaps require a few listens to fully appreciate, but are full of surprises and display a creative energy that is apparent throughout this album. Much of the music on this CD might be described as “mesmerizing”, you can really dream to these sounds, especially on headphones.
The last piece, “Zeus” (No. 14), is magnificent, with a beautiful Tangerine Dream-esque sequencer line that I adore, blending seamlessly into the powerful and grandiose central theme. I can see why Mr. White wanted to close his album with this track, so it ends on a definite high! 🙂
All in all, “The Gods of Olympus” is quite an achievement, a varied, entertaining musical journey that scales some lofty heights along the way.
September 6th, 2009 | By Richard Simms, Amazon.co.uk.