Volume two of composer Clifford White’s Synergy album series kicks off with Tidal Forces, which, after a restrained orchestral introduction, blasts off into a rocking 1970’s style synth-funk track! The Speed of Silence is replete with these kinds of contrasts, no more evident than on this opening track, which happily grooves it way through retro-synth heaven with powerful synth solos, glassy arpeggios, funky bass, a chunky groove and, finally, a big fat juicy ending, as the track carries itself away under its own tidal forces.
A cool pulsing groove blooms into a silky bossa nova beat overlaid with plaintive piano melody and rich strings in Vitamin Sea, conjuring images of gentle shorelines and balmy sunsets. Not content to remain in a relaxed pose, Clifford’s title track of the album The Speed of Silence leaps to the opposite end of the musical spectrum with a trace-like beat and insistent bass hammering away whilst synth pads, funky guitar breaks, pulsating syncopated rhythms and melodic synth solo’s firmly carry the track into optimistic and uplifting territory. A great track to let your hair down and have a little boogie (whilst no ones watching, of course).
Froesen Dreams offers a fitting tribute to synthesizer legend Tangerine Dream‘s founder Edgar Froese, a track which fuses influences from a number of classic Tangerine Dream tracks, opening as it does with textures reminiscent of the Thief soundtrack, whilst later sporting sounds that resemble TD’s Exit album. Overall, the track is a powerful and optimistic accolade to those masters of electronic music for whom Clifford obviously holds high regard. Clifford’s trip into 80’s synth nostalgia continues with Fertile, a track that sounds like it could have comfortably appeared on Vangelis’ Soil Festivities album, complete with thunder, rainfall, plaintive synth-violin meanderings, fluttering flutes and glittering electric piano motifs.
Venturing deep into cinematic drama, Event Horizon is an awe-inspiring adagio of electronic strings and horns underpinned by tribal drums, chanting and percussion. Reminiscent of Vangelis’ 1492 soundtrack, the track seems to weave a tale of revelation, reverence and wonder. Lightening the mood considerably, Submersible is pure 70’s nostalgia, in some ways most evocative of Alan Parsons’ famed track Mammagamma as it happily grooves along the tracks of it’s aquatic theme with confidence.
In a break from all of the nostalgia, Love on the Moon is a deeply atmospheric lyrical romance, featuring a warm and wistful arpeggio sequence that acts as the central apex to an increasingly layered tone poem of gentle and reflective mood.
No sooner has the dust settled than we are back into full-on synth funk mode with Sea Breeze, a joyous romp across the coastline. Space Invader then takes an even more quirky and bizarre turn, with it’s jokey, circuit-bent groove and wobbly, Moog theremin like meanderings, highly reminiscent of the classic Ventures in Space album from 1964, and the wild, wacky and humorous 60’s electronic music albums of Perrey and Kingsley. The whole album is finally wrapped up with Electronic Frontier, a cyber-cowboy anthem that speaks of new frontiers to explore, a track that has somehow been tangibly suffused with the idealism and optimism that we all seemed to have had for technology way back in the 1980’s. A fitting end to a highly innovative and enjoyable album.
The Speed of Silence is a delightful mix of retro-meets-modern, with numerous nods to those 80’s bands and classic synth tracks of the past. Aficionados will note numerous musical references to The Human League, Alan Parsons, Howard Jones and Nick Kershaw here. Even Starsky and Hutch and Shaft seem to get a look in! You can hear that Clifford White obviously thoroughly enjoyed revisiting some the music that most influenced him in his youth, re-envisioning and re-imagining new tracks suffused with his unique musical signature style and production sensibilities. Terrific fun!