Category Archives: What’s Real? Reviews
Silentaria Delivers Deep Music and Deep Silence
by: Mike Borger
Date: October 7, 2012
“What’s Real?” album from Silentaria is a stunning collection of compelling music that cannot be ignored. The music is gentle, but has great momentum. While engaging the mind and spirit in silence, it moves you toward deep realms of thought, emotion and experience. Accomplished musician, poet, electronic keyboardist, and spiritual visionary Rixa White has assembled a collection of songs that succeeds on multiple levels.
As enjoyable music, these songs fill your room and mind with expansive electronica that is peaceful and yet pleasantly stimulating. The overall experience is one of infinitely enjoyable washes of sound that combine with elements of strings, percussion, and gently driven electronic rhythms. This artist knows how to paint with sound, and the result is a panoply of compositions that entertains the mind while soothing the spirit, yet also engages the emotions.
These songs also convey the message of beauty that is at once strong and fragile. Like our own inner being, this music has gross and subtle aspects. The moving chord progressions, melodies, and washes of electronic sound have the strong presence of solid matter and moving forces. But there is a more subtle underlying unity of sound and awareness that somehow pulls it all together. This is unity in diversity, diversity in unity – and it is most profound and beckons the listener to experience activity while feeling the silence that underlies everything.
Any music that creates the kind of wide-open sound of “Silentaria: the Voice of Emptiness” must be called Space Music. Music that pulls together the busy surface level of life and the deep silence that underlies everything is not only Space Music but profoundly spiritual as well. When music like this promotes a unity of mind and body, silence and sound, diversity and unity it is by definition Healing Music. I regard the music of this album profound and effective Healing Space Music.
You will enjoy this music, no matter what your musical background or listening preferences. This music is beautiful and harmonious, and those who like classical music will doubtless like “Silentaria.” Those who like the sounds of electronic artists like Vangelis (“Antarctica,” “Blade Runner Soundtrack”), Ray Lynch (“The Sky of Mind,” “Nothing Above My Head But the Evening”), and Suzanne Ciani (“Seven Waves,” “Hotel Luna”) will immediately like this music. If you are new to synthesizer oriented music, this album is an excellent introduction as you will hear fine musicianship with a broad range of style and sound. Those who like to work with beautiful and deep music as a companion will dearly love this music.
Rixa White has truly demonstrated great musicianship in composition, arrangement, recording and presentation of this album. He has succeeded in bridging the world of silence with the world of action. The resulting music is both profound and simple, and creates a positive, healing effect in our world. This is music you ought to explore, experience, and enjoy.
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Amazon Customer Reviews
Watch “What’s Real?” album trailer here:
Music From Another World
by: Dr. Howard Jones
Date: August 31, 2012
Electronic music can be very monotonous and irritating but I found this album completely different from any other electronic music I have listened to. The whole album is refreshing and exciting with a cohesive atmosphere that takes you into a different world. Every track is different so it keeps up your interest because you wonder what the next track is going to sound like.
The first track, Mirage, starts with what seem to be the sounds of whales which is a wonderful way of pulling you into the music and there are bird sounds in Curtains over Eye. The album is a fusion of rock and the sort of music you could use for relaxation, although whilst it is relaxing to listen to, the difference in the tracks throughout might make it difficult to use if you wanted to go into a meditative state. Nevertheless, some people might find this possible and feel the uplift it offers.
Whilst the rock tracks are exciting, there are also tracks like Sorrowful Truth that are evocative of the title with crying violin sounds that again create a particular atmosphere. This track also had a Japanese sound to it, as did Echoes from East – as you would expect from the title of the track.
Real Fantasia summed up my overall impression of the album – that there was great fun involved in creating it for all those who participated. The journey through the tracks is joyous and uninhibited. This album offers a clean and exciting sound with a specific atmosphere that cannot be described – you just have to listen.
An approximation to twenty-first century moods
Date: July 30, 2012
If a collection of music in this century is a reflection of its moods, this one is a close approximation. “Mirage” in particular exemplifies how difficult it is becoming to discern what is real from what is imagined. The skillful and yet unfettered imagination brings about real things with a speed that is unmatched, and usually what is impossible today becomes a stark-deafening reality tomorrow.
“Oceans of Illusion” seems to delight in unreality but one could easily form bodily patterns that match or succumb to its rhythms, as modern dance can be both resonant with and antagonistic to musical themes.
“Vital Doubts” celebrates doubt as a fundamental emotion of the twenty-first century: it picks up the tempo as if to pay homage to it.
“Curtains Over Eyes”: if modern experience is like a drape, to look behind it is not only necessary but inevitable. The temptation cannot be overcome. The background includes a bouncing ball rhythm, which drops with metronomic uniformity and then ends abruptly. This piece is proclaiming loud and clear that there is nothing periodic in this century: one will always be fooled by any seeming regularities.
“Sorrowful Truth”: Here the music is seduced by gravity. It is pulled down to earth just like the truth always is: raw, naked, and difficult to accept at times, but always beautiful just like the melodies in this piece.
Much more malevolent is “Deceived”: the music twists the psyche just like lies always do, however they are crafted and whatever their magnitude.
“Real Fantasia” is a temporary diversion from the superposition of monotony and exhilaration that so characterizes modern existence.
Whispers wake the listener in “Consciousness” and stay steady throughout. They are gentle nudges that however signal the burden/joy of decision-making and its consequences for the conscious being.
“Diversion” from chosen paths is the rule rather than the exception today: this piece pushes the listener to accepting this stark realization.
“Echoes From East” again is a reminder that repetitiveness is an anathema and an impossibility in the twenty-first century. There is so much activity, so much work and play, that they become indistinguishable.
Intricate and Detailed:
Doesn’t Matter if You Like New Age or Not
by: T. A. Daniel
Date: July 19, 2012
I don’t often listen to new age or electronica, but Silentaria’s WHAT’S REAL? has really grown on me. It might not be super accessible to begin with; it’s a (largely) wordless concept album that focuses on a lost being’s birth and subsequent questioning of the fabric of the world around it. The self-taught Rixa White has composed 11 dense tracks of electronic new age goodness.
The opening track “Mirage” begins with the wail of a synthesizer — it sounds like a cry, not unlike a whale’s croon. From the get-go WHAT’S REAL? sounds somewhat alien, but there’s something about it that still feels human about it all. The album does a great job of combining conventional chord shifts and scales with exotic-sounding flourishes. “Mirage” sets a good tone for the album — it lets the listener know exactly what they are in for with WHAT’S REAL? The music here is really intricate, repeated listening will uncover hidden details that audiences may have missed out on the first (or fourth) time around. Silentaria’s compositions work really well in two important dimensions: the music is nice to have in the background. If listeners just want an album to work, study, or exercise to, WHAT’S REAL? works nicely. BUT, if listeners want an album they can pore over, pay close attention to, and navigate, the album works nicely on that front as well. It’s a balancing act that pays off well. The closing track, “Echoes from East,” provides a bit of a disappointing ending for the album — it does indeed sound foreign, but it ends by slowly fading out. I was expecting a grand exercise in catharsis, but it never quite came.
Rixa White set a lofty goal: the concept behind this album is one that is hard to convey. Perhaps too hard to convey in words, which may explain their absence. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like the story played out necessarily through the music. There are a few moments when the listener is treated to words (the title track, and “Consciousness” for example), and these songs serve as good points of focus, but overall, I didn’t get much out of it. In addition to the dense concept, some of the instrumentation here might be hard to ignore — the mix and engineering is good, but some of the instruments sound a bit dated. The music works well, but I think some people might have issues with the 80′s style synthesizers.
Silentaria’s 2012 release is a solid piece of art: it straddles a fine line between alien and human, exotic and familiar. Standout tracks to sample: “Curtains Over Eyes,” and “What’s Real?” I would advise against downloading these tracks piecemeal — the album works best as a whole, and listening to only one track would seem to hamper the experience. If you love New Age music, WHAT’S REAL? is a must-listen. If, however, you have shied away from the genre, this album is a great place to start. WHAT’S REAL? is definitely worth your time.
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An intense, solo electronic music extravaganza
by: Andrew H. Lee
Date: July 18, 2012
Dear Music Appreciators,
(At first I found myself giggling a bit at some of the 80′s-movie-friendly, synth-heavy arrangements, but after repeated listening this music seemed to begin to burrow into my mind a bit, as if trying to push its way past my consciousness and into that part of me that does not think, but simply exists…)
Silentaria’s latest offering WHAT’S REAL? is an intense, solo electronic music extravaganza that probes the nature of reality and the relationship between the inner and outer world of the human experience. A deep subject to be sure, but that is one of the benefits of the virtually wordless approach employed here by Rixa White. Mostly unconstrained from the limited meanings of words, White takes flight with his synthesizer and a host of other instruments and brings us along for the journey. And it does feel like a journey. The music is very cinematic – the tracks all seeming both different and the same in a way – much like a movie score, where one or two recurring themes is woven into a number of other variations on those themes that both advance the story from scene to scene and remind us of the big picture.
Notice the eerie sounds of the opening track, the lapping water, the synthesizer refrain that gradually fades in, reproduces itself, and evolves, the short and simple bass notes spaced out like hopscotch footprints in the sand – the spacing and layering of different sounds here is effective and interesting and holds the listener’s attention, waiting for what’s next.
“Curtains Over Eyes” is a stunner, and ironically sounds a lot like an Enya song at the beginning – bird sounds, eerie choir, bell tolling, synth-electric guitar flourishes, but things darken and intensify at the 1:25 mark with the addition of a slow, fuzzed out, industrial heartbeat – as if to remind listeners that this is not your grandmother’s top forty new age music.
You might be interested to know that Silentaria’s Rixa White wears a white mask – “One mask to hide them all” (check the autobiography on his website) – and while this is effective at giving him a mysterious air (possibly making his music and philosophy seem more fascinating than it is) does it have the intended effect of wiping away the listener’s preconceived notions or judgments? Well, yes and no – “yes” because we can’t judge him for what he looks like if we can’t see his face – “no” because less high-minded people will judge him for the very fact that they can’t see his face – and invite the inevitable comparisons to other famous mask wearers such as Zorro, The Phantom of the Oprah, Jason in the FRIDAY THE 13TH movies, and maybe even Tom Cruise’s character in VANILLA SKY…and perhaps that’s fitting after all for a composer who attempts to express in musical form WHAT’S REAL? – it’s a bit of a heroic gesture, and needs a strong character for the task.
Mask or no mask, with such a deep idea explored through distinctive electronic tracks this intense and varied, WHAT’S REAL? deserves a large and devoted audience.
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An Ambient Beat for a Modern Heart
Date: July 16, 2012
Composer Rixa White’s solo electronic extravaganza appears, at first blush, to have much in common with, Vangelis, Jon Anderson’s Yes, and other synthpop veterans. It’s certainly a nostalgic throwback. But Silentaria doesn’t merely mimic thirty-year-old pop icons; it also throws in an aggressive bass line that provides a fuller sound than first-wave synthpop ever enjoyed, bolstered with occasional dance floor rhythms and muscular mixed genre sounds.
On its website, Silentaria bills itself as “the Voice of Emptiness,” presumably in reference to Buddhist meditation techniques. But I’m not sure how well it lives up to that name. I mean that in a good way: this album has a very full, rich sound, making best use of its conventional and programmed instruments. It pushes Eastern pentatonic scales and Western staggered harmonies together in ways that, while not always surprising, are certainly never boring.
Like many such ambient music ensembles, Silentaria is essentially one man, and as much a triumph of engineering as musicality. Rixa White, a software entrepreneur, turned his attention to composing and recording in 2010, and this is his second album. Like those who paved the road he travels (Yanni and Kitaro come to mind), White uses his synthesizer to combine conventional piano composition and a programmed orchestra in a large, theatrical soundscape.
Silentaria’s music relies less on virtuosity and more on pattern recognition, as this style often does. But Silentaria is not satisfied to have its music permeate below the level of conscious recognition, in the best Hearts of Space tradition. Tracks like “Vital Doubts” and “Consciousness” have athletic pacing and driving percussion lines that demand to be heard. Even White’s softer compositions shift tempos and instrumentations enough to keep your attention hooked.
Then, when White has your attention, he upsets your expectations. Tracks like “Curtains Over Eyes” and “Real Fantasia” may sound like ordinary ambient music if you listen with only half an ear, but closer examination reveals unanticipated contrasts. Shakuhachi beneath skirling electric guitars; intricate symphonic orchestrations over pining wordless sighs. White’s compositions reward active listeners with curiosity enough to follow his changes.
White also makes well-considered use of samples. Sounds of weather, children playing, and animals in their habitat crop up at unexpected times, reminiscent of the pioneering work by acts like Mira Calix and Atom Heart. Even the human voices that peek through the wall of electronica come by way of White’s programming. I particularly appreciate that White can synth human voices without using that ubiquitous, tiresome AutoTune flutter we keep hearing everywhere.
And White also isn’t above a certain amount of winking irony. My favorite track, “Sorrowful Truth,” moves with great thoughtfulness, but nothing like the mournful plod the title implies. As it accelerates toward the end, throwing on playful woodwind hooks and humming wordless choir, we start to grasp White’s message: that when sorrow and truth come into competition, only one can triumph. Sorrow may be necessary, but truth is brimming with vitality and might.
I can’t pretend I have no problems with this album. Some of the tracks don’t live up to the high standards White sets himself. “Diversion,” for instance, is undercut by a cheesy beeping descant, an obvious composer’s fingerprint somewhere between a touch-tone phone and R2-D2. And the title track, one of the few with lyrics (and few enough it is), features a growling male voice demanding: “What’s real?” A female voice provides the answer every Beatles fan has already supplied: “Nothing is real.”
But these brief misfires do not set the tone for the entire album. On the whole, we can roll our eyes at such frankly ordinary choices in the odd deep album cut because the rest of the album has the power to carry us through. At least it tries, and tries harder than any five random pop confections. White’s smart orchestration and intricate programming result in a sound that is at once rooted in an electronic tradition, yet not so hidebound that it sounds the same as every other New Age drone we’ve all heard before.
Much ambient music sounds good for one or two tracks, but sticking with the artists over the length of an album can be difficult. As track mounts on track, they often reveal rhythms so unvarying that you could do Pilates with them and never miss a beat. Silentaria, however, has crafted an album that is emphatically not a soundtrack for jogging or vacuuming. Rixa White puts himself through hard changes, and expects you to join him on the journey.
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“Breathing, Believing And Living”
A Musical, Mystical Voyage Through The Illusion
by: Brian E. Erland
Date: July 14, 2012
To be honest, I was initially skeptical about what lie in store for me within the musical universe of Rixa White and his electronic New Age musical project known as Silentaria. I guess I’m a little old fashioned and conventional because I don’t usually find myself listening to musicians who wear a featureless white mask, matching suit and speak of such nebulous topics as illusion, solitude and disappearing into emptiness.
On second thought allow me rephrase and clarify what I just said. It wasn’t the subject matter that I found disconcerting; I love the arcane and esoteric. Believe it or not, it was the mere presence of this white mask that elicited my concern. As a general rule I view visual props as an attempt to draw ones attention in one direction so as not to see what’s going on elsewhere. In this particular case I suspected the mask was being used as a device to draw the listener away from some flaw in the music. Needless to say I was prepared not to be deceived by such theatrics.
Now after listening to Silentaria’s `What’s Real?’ I’m please to share with all that my fears were unfounded and I loved all eleven pieces! Yes really, all eleven. To my way of thinking that’s pretty amazing, how often do you actually enjoy every cut on an album? I find that to be especially true within the genre of electronic music. There’s almost always one or two numbers that are too slow and boring, or a piece that tries to accelerate the pace a little and just goes way overboard and doesn’t fit at all.
Rixa White has successfully avoided those above mentioned pitfalls and brilliantly I might add. What awaits the listener is a subtly conceived voyage into, through and beyond the mundane world of illusion (or at least to its outer borders). Silentaria crosses over terrain where other travelers have successfully gone before; Kitaro, Vangelis, Steve Roach, Enigma and Def Punk (yes that’s right, Def Punk). But Rixa White’s music has a unique destination all its own and doesn’t linger long with those that came before. To be reminded of something old and familiar is comforting. To be aware of something new and different is exhilarating. Prepare yourself for a thrilling voyage and let the exploration that is Silentaria begin!
Truly some extraordinary sounds by Rixa White
by: Jim Chambers
Date: July 8, 2012
I’m old enough to remember the pop and rock music of the 1950s and 1960s, and I acknowledge that about half of my music CDs and downloads are from that era (or earlier). But the other half is an eclectic mix of sounds, including ambient, electronic, and easy listening. When Silentaria offered me the opportunity to review the “What’s Real?” album, I quickly agreed, since I don’t often have the chance to hear and review new contemporary music. With no idea what to expect, I played the eleven tracks on the album.
I have to say that this is extraordinary music. Much of the New Age music I hear is either too bland to hold my attention or too funky for my tastes. Not so with “What’s Real?”. I’m not a musician, so I’m not sure which, if any, of the instruments were real, and which were synthesized, but whatever the case, it works. Even to my relatively untrained ear, this is remarkably complex music, with the various sounds being woven together in a brilliant tapestry.
I enjoyed every track, but if I had to list my favorites, they would include:
“Mirage” – Beautiful music based around sounds that are reminiscent of the Humpback Whale songs (think “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home”).
“What’s Real?” – Perhaps my favorite track, it has a rousing beat with barely audible whispers of voices trying to be heard. I can easily imagine hearing “What’s Real?” over the end credits for one of the superheroes films.
“Vital Doubts” – A spirited, driving beat that had me drumming on my computer desk and tapping my toes on the floor.
By all means listen to the 30-second samples on Amazon, but honestly, the brief snippets don’t begin to do justice to the music.
A musical expression of Wholeness and Emptiness
by: Grady Harp
Date: July 7, 2012
It is rare when artists devote their craft to answer universal questions. But that is precisely what Rixa White offers in WHAT’S REAL? The hour long experience created here is composed and executed by Rixa White – a self-taught pianist, keyboardist, composer and poet, and if ever there existed a merging of all of these aspects it is here, in this music, in this sensory seduction, and in posing answers (or lack of same) to the question we all ask of the Universe – what’s real?
White’s complex keyboard utilization creates orchestras, voices, layers of atmospheres that lift us above the new and transport us to a level of receptivity to bigger questions and leaves us satisfied that none of this is real: it is all an illusion which we mold to our needs and hopefully expand our perception of possibilities.
The art connected with Silentaria speaks to the same end: `The album cover image illustrates a fading shadow on fading water ripples in the dark which ends up to a dot. The shadow can be any creature diving into illusion. The fact that both shadow and reflection on the water not existing by themselves, emphasizes the concept that what we believe and experience may not be real.’ The track titles suggest the rest: Mirage, What’s Real?, Oceans of Illusion, Vital Doubts, Curtains Over Eyes, Sorrowful Truth, Deceived, Real Fantasia, Consciousness, Diversion, and Echoes from East.
Sit back, absorb, challenge your senses and refresh in asking the questions posed by WHAT’S REAL? This is one of the more successful albums of New Age Music around.
Grady Harp, July 12
“What’s Real?” album review by Marian White
“Survival is an ancient dream. Life is nothing but an everlasting illusion. Nothing is Real. Don’t believe in illusion, remember me, I am here … “
This is not a conversation from a witchcraft movie, but a title story for Silentaria‘s new album; “What’s Real?“. “This is a story of a lost creature, surrounded by reality and illusion contradiction, as mentioned by Rixa White; the self-taught pianist, keyboardist, composer and poet behind Silentaria musical project.
The illusive album atmosphere is in complete harmony with album cover, track names and melodies. They all play their own role in emphasizing the concept that what we believe or experience may not be real.
The story begins in an eccentric, hypnotic, trance-like space where you will be injected with illusive sounds of “Mirage”. Passing a curious robot which keeps asking an angel “What’s Real?”, you reach the warm “Oceans of Illusion”, so, get drowned and you will hear the whisper of “Vital Doubts” by a magical flute. The heroic theme by an electric guitar removes “Curtains over Eyes”. So, you feel the “Sorrowful Truth” played by a soothing violin and then you will figure out how we all have been “Deceived” while pursuing happiness in “Real Fantasia”. Awakening call of “Consciousness” with computer-generated human voices makes you ready for a modern epic “Diversion” and this part of journey finally ends by “Echoes from East”.
For a long time New Age music was stocked alongside with a soft, yoga-like, energy crystals, wiccan paraphernalia and homeopathic medicine music that you can find in your local health shop or spa, but a new wave in this music genre has been seen in recent decade which is dynamic, spiritual and epic-heroic.
As a part of this new wave rise, Rixa White has created ingenious cinematic themes, robotic melodies and dazzling bursts of electronic sketches that take an imagination to realize the whole orchestra produced by only one musician.
Rixa White, the masked angel of music, breaks his 1001 days of silence by releasing “The Beginning of the End” in October 2011 and now his new album, “What’s Real?”, is a conceptual album with illusive visionary melodies and sounds, stranger than your dreams, but familiar to your inner emotions that make you eager to listen again and again.