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The Enid - Six Pieces CD (album) cover

SIX PIECES

The Enid

 

Symphonic Prog

3.88 | 75 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars It's hard to believe Robert John Godfrey originally intended this to be a single composition. If he did then the record label had far more influence than they ever should have for an Enid album since the final product lacks any sort of overall cohesive feel, theme or message. Well maybe a little bit of a common feel since like nearly everything the band did after 'In the Region of the Summer Stars' sounds a bit like Andrew Lloyd Webber doing Wagner for a Disney animated film soundtrack. And that's no different here, except that as we've seen since the debut record Godfrey continues to cede increasingly larger portions of his works to the 'rock' side of the band, namely guitarists Stephen Stewart and Francis Lickerish as well as percussionist Robbie Dobson (who is quite brilliant here, especially on the opening "Punch and Judy Man" and the somewhat schizophrenic "The Ring Master").

As the title states this record consists of six pieces of music, ostensibly one dedicated to each member of the band although I've not been able to confirm that conclusively. They are all compositions in the expected late-seventies Godfrey mold (eg., quite symphonic with just enough rock to merit the genre label), but there are slight differences worth noting.

"Punch and Judy Man" is pretty much what the title would suggest, a back-and-forth musical sketch of with alternating masculine and feminine themes. The masculine portions are confident and bold, while the feminine parts tend to be timid to the point of lackluster, and at times almost imperceptible. While I enjoy this album as a whole I think this was a weak choice for the opening track.

In contrast though the next four tracks are quite brilliant, led by "Once She Was..." which is one of the more unique variations on the traditional English ballad "Scarborough Fair" I've ever heard. The band takes the familiar refrain and weaves it into several musical variations that blend together quite well for an overall pleasant and curiously nostalgic feel. I'm not English at all but listening to this song almost makes me wish I was.

"The Ring Master" is a classical-meets-rock mash-up of a circus-like mood set to orchestral music produced by three sets of keyboards and lots of varied percussion. You should be able to take that description and get a sense; cacophonic at times, lively, melodic and overall a quite fun piece of music to listen to.

When listening to "Sanctus" and "Hall of Mirrors" I do wonder a bit if these two songs and "Punch and Judy Man" were meant to work together at one point, so maybe there is something to that single-composition story after all. The former sounds quite like 'Punch' parts of that song while the latter smacks of 'Judy' but with a little more volume and definitely more accompaniment for Godfrey by the other band members. These feel like variations on the opening track that are worked out a little more fully and meant to stand on their respective own. "Sanctus" comes off solid, but "Hall of Mirrors" suffers from being a bit too laconic in my opinion.

As with several other Enid albums the band closes with a longer track, in this case the nearly ten minute "The Dreamer". Here Godfrey lapses back into his chamber-hall motif with a work that has basically no rock attributes whatsoever and could easily be passed off as classical music by a student or local community orchestra with few people the wiser. I love the guy's music but once again he seems to vacillate on what sort of music the Enid is meant to create. Gorgeous ending though.

This would be the end for this group of musicians for the most part, although the name 'The Enid' would live on. Pye Records would fold, Lickerish and Dobson would leave and Godfrey and Stewart would essentially become a duo with a revolving door supporting cast for the next several years. The nest album would even have (egad!) ? vocals. So this is the last 'true' the Enid album as far as I'm concerned, and the band acquitted themselves quite well on it all things considered. Their best and most varied work yet I think. This band is definitely an acquired taste, even for progressive music fans. But if you're willing to take the time the experience can be worth it, and of everything they created in the seventies this is the one I'd most highly recommend. Fourt stars out of five and well recommended.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |

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