Lightning Bolts and Ambrosia
There is no more important source in man’s history that gives rise to heroic adventures and extraordinary mythology than that of the ancient Greeks. Thanks to the minds, hearts and squibs of the Old World Grecian poets, gods and goddesses, heroes and villains and romantics of every sort came alive. It was a time when every god had a singular purpose in the history and faith of man. To understand those roles better, composer and multi-instrumentalist Clifford White offers an album of contemporary, sometimes ambient orchestral tunes called The Gods of Olympus that breathes new life into an aged mythology. He takes on the fourteen main residents of the lofty, legendary palace, from Athena to Zeus, and gives them a sound that can be recognized, associated with and enjoyed.
The power, strength, boldness and beauty of the deities are robustly captured in the opening tune, Gods of Olympus. White composes an appropriately pompous overture to salute the grandeur of the subject. The predominant horns remind us of the serious respect that the gods are due.
With a characteristic strumming lyre, perhaps that of the god Apollo, the goddess of love, Aphrodite is introduced with a sound as diaphanous as the highest clouds. The tune is weightless and shimmering with just a hint of ethereal voice. Aphrodite whose mantra is `Make love, not war.` is really the entity responsible for the Trojan War.
Demeter is the goddess of grain and the harvest. Her song is sprightly, almost effervescent. White uses a strong beat, perhaps representing the heartbeat of the planet. Demeter’s grief is winter, caused by the loss of her daughter Persephone who is forced seasonally to return to Hades and the underworld.
Hephaestus, having fallen from Mount Olympus is known as the Lame Smith. He is the god of fire, volcanoes, blacksmiths and industry. In Clifford’s stirring version, you can hear the hammer blows and the rendering of metal as Hephaestus strikes his anvil, building macabre weapons for the gods. This is a favorite on the album.
The melody in Hera takes on a welcome surprise as it becomes a smooth jazz tune, completely unexpected. The music seems casual, but it doesn’t conceal the energy and spirit of the wife of Zeus. It features a driving beat and what sounds like a Shakuhachi flute. Hera is the goddess of marriage, but as queen of the gods she was jealous and vindictive.
Finally, the last track is Zeus. As king of the Immortals, he had the power of the heavens and commanded all the other gods. White tributes him with an almost (David) Arkenstonian piece of music. Sparkling synthesis and strong beats and a heavenly choir praise the power of the Titanic king.
Clifford White has been successfully composing since the early 1980s. He is the founder of the New Age Music Association and the producer of countless albums for other New Age artists. The Gods of Olympus is his crowning achievement to date with over seventy minutes of stimulating and mood altering New Age music.
November 30th, 2009 | By RJ Lannan, Zone Music Reporter