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.
Clifford White two most recent albums are The Gods of Olympus (2009) 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. The next year, in 2010, Clifford White released something totally different; The Healing Touch – Ascension II (2010). 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 was not totally 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.
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.
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…