Category Archives: Reviews
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.
Read this article at:
Mind Altering Music
by: Grady Harp
Date: July 16, 2012
Rixa White, also known as the man in white is a talented pianist, electronic keyboardist, and composer who is devoting his talent to creating albums of music under the aegis of Silentaria. This is New Age Music and in a marketplace where so many albums claim to be in this field, Rixa White is clearly the most sophisticated. His compositions are rich in variations of color and rhythms and harmonics, so much so that at times the listener is transported to an arena where there seems to be a full symphony orchestra and chorus.
Rixa White’s eleven tracks create gentle themes transporting the listener on a journey of self-actualization, inner thought and peaceful insight, while focusing on pure experience of life, beyond conceptual words and beliefs. The tracks included on this album have signifiers for identification, and areas follows: Emerge, The Beginning of the End, Return of the Lost, The Ruined Innocence, Lament of Being, Beyond Destiny, One Last Quest, Hidden Utopia, It’s time to go, Farewell, and Eastward. The music require the listener to set aside time alone, time when the mind can be cleared of all extraneous information, and simply release to the experience that pours out of the speakers. This is a purging time and an enriching one. And we all need what Rixa White and Silentaria offer.
Grady Harp, July 12
Check out all reviews about “The Beginning of the End” album.
See all album reviews.
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.
Read this article at:
“A groundbreaking tour de force album by Rixa White”
by: Jim Chambers
Date: July 15, 2012
Having previously reviewed Rixa White’s album “What’s Real?”, when I was offered the opportunity to review “The Beginning of the End,” I was happy to do so. My personal music library is a bit heavy with music from the 1940s through the 1970s, but I do listen to a lot of contemporary music, including New Age electronic music. To me, New Age has been a mixed bag, with some I really enjoyed and play often, and some I didn’t care for at all.
“The Beginning of the End” is one of the former. I enjoyed the album very much. The eleven tracks ranged from gentle, easy listening to relentless, driving beats. “Beyond Destiny” was one of my favorites, with a spirited boldness. “One Last Quest” was another very upbeat sound. Balancing these were softer tracks like “Return of the Lost.” The sounds were mostly instrumental only, although “It’s Time to Go” had some quirky synthesized voices that were audible.
In some of the New Age synthesized instrumental albums that I’ve sampled, after listening to a few tracks, the music begins to take on a sameness, where the different tracks sound like minor variations of the others. Not so with “The Beginning of the End.” Each piece had its own identifying uniqueness that made it recognizable from the others. The album includes some of the most complex and rich electronic music that I’ve heard. For a single artist to have produced such sounds must have been an enormously challenging undertaking, but in the end, it works.
Highly recommended for all music lovers, with kudos to Rixa White for a tour de force performance.
Check out all reviews about “The Beginning of the End” album.
See all album reviews.
“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.
Cosmic, Trance-like, Hypnotic, Celestial, Mesmerizing
by: Mike DeGagne
Date: January 20, 2012
These are just a few of the sure-fire adjectives that will most likely be employed when describing Silentaria’s album “The Beginning of the End”. The music is synthesizer based, with layer upon layer of spacey progressive waves, apropos vocal injections, and multi-colored flashes of assorted beats, rhythms, and pulses. Like a trip through outer space and then suddenly experiencing a supernova, Silentaria take you on a voyage with plenty of surprises. Yes, it’s been done before, but that doesn’t mean that one can’t indulge once again in this trippy, new-age style of delicious sonic syrup.The comparisons are plenty…Vangelis, Jean-Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, just to name a few. These resemblances hit home right away on “Emerge”, the opening track. A dancing rhythm and pulses of synthesizer beams painting colors in your mind, both combining and leaving you with a peaceful ease that is aided by the faint choral of “aaahhhs” that float by in the background. There’s a wonderful detached feel that arises from Silentaria’s style of music…a type of “comfortably numb“-ness that the band was aiming for and succeeded in accomplishing. The same can be said for the album’s title track, the next song in sequence, which adds a faint backbeat but still incorporates a lush, celestial-like bunch of keyboard swatches up front to keep with the mood.
“Return of the Lost” incorporates more of a mysterious feel to its body, sounding like the music being played in a suspense movie, chock full of short, sporadic bits of synth. “The Ruined Innocence” is haunting, almost Omen-like in its mood and soft yet sinister air. This pair of songs exhibit yet another color in the spectrum of Silentaria’s electronic music…a welcoming change to what could’ve been (but is far from) a set of tracks weighed down by similar rhythms, themes, and time signatures. They change gears once again in “Lament of Being”, a science fiction-like set of mechanical keyboard lines that sound purposely cold, lonely, and distant. The pace is picked up on “Beyond Destiny”, which sounds like it could have been used in the movie Blade Runner. Melodic and musically vibrant, the synthesizer is put to good use once again with its up-tempo pace and ethereal pastiches swimming about in mid-air.
“One Last Quest” has the listener visioning a barren landscape with a solitary voyageur trekking across its stark terrain…quite effective. “Hidden Utopia” is a shimmering barrage of pulsating rhythms, short and sweet, but merging together to create a kaleidoscope of electronic hues. In “It’s Time To Go”, the robotic voice that repeats the title of the track is nestled in amongst more mood-infused patches of chilly tones and tinges, while “Farewell” bubbles with frothy keyboard fragments and dazzling bursts of electronic sketches. The album ends with “Eastward”, a sort of clunky, Alan Parsons Project-ish track that doesn’t feel out of place from rest of the album’s topography.
To sum it up, Silentaria doesn’t really do anything new here. They don’t break new electronic ground or add any special effects for shock value. What they do, plain and simple, is create an appealing collection of electronic pieces that breed their own definite personality. Who cares about the comparisons, or what other artists their music reminds you of, Silentaria’s “The Beginning of the End” makes for a great escape into the wonders of electronic music, and they get full marks for making each track distinctive, individualistic, and eccentric.
Check out all reviews about “The Beginning of the End?” album.
See all album reviews.