Ambition is one thing. Merely creating a single album with a dozen songs on it can take months. For some, a life time. British composer Clifford White has recently released a four-disc set of electronic music that covers several genres and he has done it quite brilliantly. Called The Synergy Series, White offers up homages, themes, and moods stimulating on the surface, but subliminal in the message. In this music he has compressed a life time and more into a space equivalent to 302 megabytes.
Clifford White is a teacher, a producer, and a composer that has a career spanning more than thirty years. Around 1985, his first release, Ascension, was a success and it was just the impetus he needed to launch his musical career. Many years and fifteen albums later, he is a popular and successful industry innovator for all things in electronic music.
Synergy is an Anglicized word dating back to ancient Greek. Synergos means working together. In the modern world we define it as a creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts. Clifford White’s music compendium is exactly that.
Vol. 1 – Waterworld
White concentrates on not only the quality of water, but on its movement. The first cut and title track is called Waterworld. There is a lot of forward motion in the notes suggesting the wind at your back or spray on the bow. Or the coursing of a mighty river. In either case, beautiful and vast, our planet is covered in water. Water is life. Edentide has a moderately echoing horn driven theme and smooth bass line that welcomes you to a new world. There is something animated in the music. The chattering of life is all around you. There is warmth, there is growth. Welcome to the paradise in your own mind. Synergy, the tune, is full of excitement and of course, energy. There is a driving beat, suggesting the heartbeat of life. The tune has a stimulating, dynamic flow. All creative forces come together on a tune that moves you even when you’re not.
Vol. 2 – The Speed of Silence
The crash of ocean waves presides on the first cut, Tidal Forces. Of course, Clifford’s music is anything but silent. As in many a case, there is much left unsaid. The melody suggests an attraction, a grasp on the soul like no other. It is natural force and it means get ready, here comes change. One of the more interesting cuts is called Froesen Dreams. The glassy tinkle of frosty elements adds a chilly atmosphere to this ambient expedition. Think traveling over blue ice. The idea of cool, forward movement is strong in this tune. Reminding me of something out of the Jan Hammer songbook, the tune Electric Frontier is hard to forget. There are many shiny sparkly blandishments, but the leitmotif offers a new horizon full of promise.
Vol. 3 – Robot Dawn
In Robot Dawn all the tracks are heavily fortified with electronics. The title puts me in mind of Isaac Asimov’s writings (I, Robot). He knew about robots and predicted that one day robots would be ubiquitous in our world. The first cut, Dark Future suggest a planet where mostly mechanicals are left. Humankind has taken to hiding. The mechanicals decide they have a better way. For man’s own good, they make their play. Clifford’s pulsing tune is a march of new automatons right off their own assembly line. Humans take heed. A very bright tune on the CD is called Eastopia. Not an Eden, but a robot created place of power and logic. This is a driving tune with upbeat percussion and bold synth washes. In the end we discover it is a place that only exists in the minds of the robots. It seemed real enough to me. Clifford’s construct The Third Law reminds us that robots may protect themselves unless a human would be in danger. With so few humans on the planet, the robots seemed to have evolved with their own agenda. However, man exists because he changes with the conditions. Robots beware.
Vol. 4 – City Scape
First Light, the first cut, is a Bosa Nova powered refrain with strong bass and subdued horns, but the music gives off sparks. The sounds of the city, thunder, sirens, and incredible energy are in the soundtrack to an exciting world. There is much high-octane music on this series and one of the cuts that is energetic and exciting is called Skyway. The beat is sick, slick, and exuberant. This is EDM at its best. Just try to keep up. Surprisingly to say the least, inorganic Gregorian chant makes an appearance on the track The Darker Path. Maybe the little nuances of the unexpected are what makes this series so listenable. This is a shadowy journey over mountain, across seas, into the caves, and beyond, even though the listener may never leave the confines of home. White’s expansive soundscape tells us to fear, but not to fear everything.
This exhilarating 46 track 4 disc collection of electronic music is exciting and animated at every turn. Each album has its own flow and its own cohesive theme, yet all four could be played on shuffle and still give you an incredible listening experience. It did for me. I believe this is a tour de force for White. It is a smorgasbord of electronic wizardry that will satisfy all of your appetites. Everything you hear works together. Highly recommended.
R J Lannan, Artisan Music Reviews, May 2019.
See the original review here.