Mystery and plenty of imagination
by: Bruce Gall
Date: May 21, 2013
Taking on the persona of something between Jason from Friday the 13th films and the phantom of the opera with the white Venetian-style mask, Silentaria (aka Rixa White) has developed a style that carries enough mystery and threat and yet creates a style of 21st century instrumental and synthpop that i have very fond memories of from the 80’s but it would be a mistake to think he is merely resurrecting a past sound. Back then the music was in its infancy and had quite of bit of developing to go through and now “the man in white” has created a very accessible, catchy and rhythmic series of tracks that retain the originals feel but with modern technology and brings us a much smoother sound.
So, with elements of UK 80’s synth mixed with influences of the likes of Vangelis, Jarre and Kitaro, the albums “The Beginning of the End” (2011) and “What’s Real?” (2012) give the listener a clean and crisp new take with excellent synth sounds, drum machines and, above all, great melodies. There’s also a subtle diversity in the tracks so i found i was always intrigued to find out what was coming next possibly due to the composers experiences of different cultures.
I listen to plenty of electronic music and it’s quite refreshing to listen to relatively short pieces that don’t really come into the space, ambient, Berlin-school, therapeutic categories. Some will obviously pigeon-hole certain tracks but for me after hearing both albums there’s a beautiful simplicity to them. Maybe i’m getting the meaning of the wholeness and emptiness philosophy.
The music and the mysterious character have all the makings of a great live act, too.
Two excellent albums worth checking out.
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“What’s Real?” and “Eastward” tracks will be featured by Bruce Gall at “Atmospheres” program on One World Radio on May 28, 2013 at 10:00 PM GMT.
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A sensitive response to tragedy
by: Grady Harp
Date: January 10, 2013
For the growing audience to Silentaria no introduction is necessary . . .
The extremes of electronic music are fully explored in this dreamlike song from Silentaria. Not only is there an obvious piano keyboard in the foreground, but also voices and full orchestra and even guitar modes are added gradually until the entire spectrum of music is reproduced with great beauty. Apparently Rixa White had composed a draft version of “Forgotten Promises” melody in 1992. After 20 years, on December 2012, getting emotionally touched by tragedies like Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, he completed the initial melody and released it as a single track in honoring Sandy Hook Elementary School victims.
At a time when solace is much needed, the music by Rixa White in this `Forgotten Promises’ helps soothe away some of the pain we feel and helps us enter a better state of mind.
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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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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.
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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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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
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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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“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.
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