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The Enid

Symphonic Prog

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5 stars Six Pieces was The Enid's next release after 'Touch Me'. I believe it was originally intended to be a continuous piece of music, but the record company took fright and demanded that they make it into shorter, more accessible tracks. The end result is still stunning, even after the indignity of record company interference. The music was eventually split into six musical "portraits" of each individual band member. (Unfortunately I can't remember who each track is meant to represent.) The first track, 'Punch and Judy Man', opens with a fast 9/8 + 7/8 figure on the keyboards. This track is tricky as hell and features some incredible drumming from Dave Storey. After a rousing intro the tune slips into a dreamy section which sounds like Debussy, Chopin and Mahler all rolled into one (no mean feat). Track 2 is a beautiful arrangement of 'Scarborough Fair', renamed 'Once She Was'. It takes the form of a set of continuous decorative variations on the famous melody. After a short intro the melody is played gently on string machines and, as if by magic, we find ourselves in the very English world of Holst and Vaughn Williams. (neither of whom could have done better, I hasten to add) After a mysterious pizzicato variation the band launch into an angry sounding section which leads directly into a majestic "brass" chorale. The tune ends with a mighty restatement of the melody, featuring great brass sounds from the synths. Track 3 is a stormy piece with a distinctly English and nautical feel about it. Great drumming and beautiful guitar work abound. The next track, 'Sanctus', is full of brass fanfares and soaring guitar work. A rather rousing tune, to be sure. 'Hall of Mirrors' features some exquisite guitar playing from Francis Lickerish and Stephen Stewart. The last track, 'The Dreamer', is a song without words; a broad cantabile melody that wouldn't be out of place in an Italian Opera. It reaches a climax with a theme from 'Sanctus'. I really can't give this album anything less than a five star rating. The Enid really were one hell of a band.
Report this review (#25881)
Posted Thursday, June 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm not giving this album five stars without careful consideration! But Six Pieces is The Enid at the very top of their form. Often overlooked for their better known recordings 'In The Region Of The Summer Stars', 'Aerie Faerie Nonsense' and 'Something Wicked This Way Comes', I think this is their best work. Its the last album with Francis Lickerish on board and after this the band shrunk down to a core of Godfrey and Stewart and introduced vocals on some of their tracks, which were not always very successful. What we have here is really symphonic, full of wonderful melodies and harmonies. The tracks are full of the early Enid trademarks - lush keyboards puntuated by brassy lead lines (probably from the Arp Odyssey), lilting piano, dual guitars and pyrotechnic percussion. The tracks each represent a different member of the group - for example 'The Ring Master' is percussionist Robbie Dobson (not Dave Storey as another reviewer stated), who was only with the group for a short time and is excellent on this.

The real shame is that this version of the group disbanded after this album which meant this material was never toured properly. Only 'Hall of Mirrors' has appeared in live form (on 'Final Noise') and it would have been great to hear 'Punch and Judy Man' or 'Ring Master' in a live setting.

This album reminds me of Locanda Delle Fate's seminal work of the late seventies - not in style so much as the fact that every instrument seems to be playing a melody all the time - no power chords or flashy show-off stuff here. Every note seems to have been meticulously crafted and it comes over as more of a group effort then their later works, although RJG domintes as usual.

The CD comes with a superb bonus track, the 16 minute 'Joined By The Heart' pt2, Steven Stewart's half of a two part composition (RJG's half can be found as a bonus on the 'Touch Me' CD). Its a great piece featuring a slow repeating bass note over which the track builds into a dramatic crescendo, and the best of the bonus tracks on their CD releases except for RJG's 'Reverberations', which I think is the best thing he's ever written (which is saying something!) and is a bonus on the CD versions of 'Region' and 'Seed and the Sower'.

Report this review (#25883)
Posted Sunday, February 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
4 stars I discovered this amazing progrock band while I was searching the section 'Symphonic Rock' in the famous Amsterdam record shop Boudisque. Reading the back cover of the album "Six Pieces" from a formation called The ENID I couldn't believe my eyes: a six-piece band including no less than three keyboard players, what a thrilling idea (like SPRING and EELA CRAIG)! I didn't even listen to the album but bought it immidiately. At home I felt in love with their unique and compelling sound, this sounded lke genuine progrock in every inch: classical inspired compositions (six pieces) with lots of changing climates featuring sumptuous Wagnerian sounding orchestral keyboards, some Emersonian synthesizers (brass sound), sparkling pianoplay, fiery electric guitar, a dynamic rhythm-section and varied percussion. I still don't know any other band that succeeded to blend classical music and symphonic rock the way The ENID did, what a mindblowing progrock! Within a few weeks I bought all their LP's, from the debut album entitled "In The Region Of The Summer Stars" until "Live At Hammersmith Vol II" but despite the high level of all those records "Six Pieces" remains my favorite, a matter of taste I think while reading the other reviews on Prog Archives. Anyway, thanks to all fellow reviewers for the advise concerning the CD (re- releases).
Report this review (#25884)
Posted Saturday, March 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Enid's refined classical rock isn't for everybody. It incorporates every nuance of dynamic and rhythmic subtlety to be found in classical performance practice. It can strike some as overly mellodramatic. _Six Pieces_ is unique in their output. More than any other Enid album, it incorporates characteristic virtuoso prog (shifting time signatures, bold synth lead sounds), probably due to the substantial compositional voice of keyboard player William Gilmour. Outstanding keyboard arrangements and sensational ensemble work serve gorgeous music ranging from the wistful to the mischievous.

1. Punch and Judy Man - Contrasts masculine, ELP-esque prog rock sections with feminine late romantic lyricism. An outstanding drum performance makes this required listening for any prog drummer.

2. Once She Was... (Scarborough Fayre) - Very moving set of variations on the "Scarborough Fair" melody. Intricate and imaginative keyboard orcehstrations with echoes of Delius and Holst.

3. The Ring Master - Another prog drumming extravaganza. Playful, but not without characteristic Enid sweeping grandeur.

4. Sanctus - Includes foreshadowing of the dramatic climax still to come in "Hall of Mirrors." The final chorale theme arrangement is very satisfying.

5. Hall of Mirrors - Landmark guitar playing by Stephen Stewart in this emotive slow movement. Few times has the electric guitar reached the level of ecstasy it achieves here.

6. The Dreamer - Begins with an extemporized evocation of a dream world, then broad melodies and a climax reminiscent of the band's signature tune from 1975, "Fand."

Report this review (#240788)
Posted Monday, September 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Oh my dear prog, I haven't been so disappointed for a long time. Such a void and empty music this is. After listening few of their albums, I stumbled also over this one and was surprised how high ratings are on this one. So I checked it, but I'm not sure now where's the mistake (more like on whose side), but this simply fails to attract my attention. Only stronger piece that steps in front is The Ring Master, others hold back and are more similar to ambient background. Where are strong orchestra pieces, monumental sound backgrounds and thunder like compositions (Wagner, think of Wagner). If they want to for instance make calm, why it's so weak and void ?

3(-), one of my most angry reviews so far. Being beautiful doesn't mean that you have to be afraid to do anything at all. Fail, this simply fails.

Report this review (#259419)
Posted Tuesday, January 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Although, ostensibly, each of the six band members were provided the opportunity to offer up a composition, Robert Godfrey's orchestration and exposition are present on each of the album's six songs.

Each track of this album is worthy of careful consideration and contemplation. I'll go in depth to describe track one, in the hope that you will be encouraged to "chart your own course" of exploration through the remaining 5 tracks of this masterpiece!

Punch and Judy Man:

The first song of the album begins with a captivatingly energetic combination of percussive keyboards sounds (flute and some type of xylophone. glockenspiel or vibraphone sound). A little over 20 seconds into this introduction section, we are greeted by powerful drum and electric guitar punctuations. At around the 40 second mark, we come across our first fully stated theme. Let's call it the "PUNCH" theme. Counting out musical sections is tricky, but I hear this as alternating from a 9/8 measure to a 13/8 measure.

Proceedings soon escalate into a swirling frenetic section with the first 8 notes of the PUNCH theme cascading over the top of all the craziness. The first few notes of the Punch theme recur above the action before leaving for other musical territory. This is the kind of counterpoint I've come to expect from The Enid. Simply superb!

Things continue in a nicely developmental manner until, at around the 1:18 mark, the originally stated PUNCH theme returns verbatim in all of its alternating 9/8 & 13/8 glory.

The JUDY theme begins at around 1:45. Our introduction to JUDY is quiet and gradual, through whisperingly quiet piano and keyboard (flute). The music builds in both volume and intensity as the JUDY theme is presented in magnificently beautiful and rich tones.

Although the JUDY theme clearly includes new melodic elements, a key passage of it is comprised of a sequence of tones lifted sequentially from the PUNCH theme. At this point, the astute listener realizes that, despite all their emotionally stylistic differences, PUNCH and JUDY share musical content. This is particularly appropriate, for had this piece of music been intended to simply contrast the dispositions of two diametrically opposed individuals, it would have most certainly been named "Punch and Judy". Instead, its name is "Punch and Judy Man" because it describes the emotional ups and downs of a singular person, a "Punch and Judy" man.

JUDY's developmental section culminates in a passage of elegant quietude at around the 3:15 mark, which (we should know by now) effectively sets the stage for a grand reentry of loud drums and guitar at around 3:35. Everything grows faster, louder, more frenetic until, at around the 5 minute mark of the song, the PUNCH theme returns, enigmatically with 10/8 (instead of 9/8) and 14/8 (instead of 13/8) sections. The next time through, however, it reverts back to its 9/8 & 13/8 incarnation.

More frenetic fun ensues to the point of creating an almost absurdly carnivalesque, keystone cops atmosphere.

Yet another sudden shift at around 5:45 marks the beginning of a slow and mightily majestic passage not unlike the ending sequence of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. Remarkable!

Close to the 7 minute mark? You guessed it! One final shift back to frenetic energy. The song will end as it began. With a PUNCH!

From the beautifully orchestrated explorations of colors and melodies surrounding the popular melody of Scarborough Fayre (Track 2 "Once she was?") to the soaring electric guitar of "Sanctus" and the emotional grand finale of "The Dreamer", this album is remarkable. If the fifth track, "Hall of Mirrors", seems to enigmatically wander a bit, perhaps it is only because it is successful in evoking the very feelings it seeks to musically convey. The Enid, once again remind us that they are the singular standard by which all orchestral symphonic progressive rock is to be measured. As always, electronic keyboards rule the day. But guitar, bass guitar and drums are still very important elements of the band's unique "sound".

Report this review (#281867)
Posted Thursday, May 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Six Pieces is an album that's too dynamic. The quiet parts are barely audible, and the loud moments are cacophonic. The heavy passages contain little or no melody- just noisy, varying runs, sputtering notes, or seeming haphazardness. It's a chore to sit through. The delicate symphonic parts are definitely the best thing this album has to offer, but quite frankly, it feels like I'm listening to a Disney soundtrack in several places. The last two tracks, "Hall of Mirrors" and "The Dreamer" are the best offerings on the album, but beware: They are much closer to classical music than progressive rock.

"Punch and Judy Man" Frivolous light notes create a feathery texture of an introduction, but soon powerful keyboards and bass launch into an ELP-like flamboyance. Following this, and with nary a transition (they could be moving onto a new track, really), there is a sweetly delicate mix of orchestral keyboards. The third section of the piece relies on rapid bass notes on the piano with various interrupting notes leading into a nasty, messy passage of music.

"Once She Was" This is very pleasant pseudo-orchestral music- one could almost be fooled into thinking he was hearing a classical work. Midway through, again with no transition, various synthesizers and percussion create a grand symphonic display for about a minute, and then it's back to the synthetic orchestra.

"The Ring Master" The title is appropriate, given that this sounds like exaggerated circus music. In a nutshell (one not yet eaten by an elephant), this represents most of what is wrong with this album- the arrangement is so boringly busy. There is no centerpiece, precious little melody, and nothing to make me recall what I'd just heard.

"Sanctus" While this doesn't sound terribly original, it is pleasant and has a clear direction- a happy, cheerful least for the first 45 seconds. It gets loud for a bit, and then settles into a dirge-like mellowness. Again, a bunch of passages thrown together does not good progressive rock make. Fortunately it does pick up into something similar to my favorite composer, Tchaikovsky. There's a guitar theme that interrupts the music a few times, and it really doesn't fit at all- I have no idea why it got wedged into the piece, and not just once.

"Hall of Mirrors" Quiet piano treads softly underneath a weepy lead in this delicate waltz. The soaring guitar over the orchestral keyboards is a stunning moment of grandeur.

"Intro / The Dreamer" The introduction to "The Dreamer" is a ghostly, almost nightmarish piece with eerie percussion and frightening noises, but the piece proper is unassumingly beautiful with a mighty climax.

Report this review (#290324)
Posted Wednesday, July 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
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.


Report this review (#300548)
Posted Sunday, September 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Less than a year after the release of Touch Me, The Enid were once again in the studio, recording their fourth album, Six Pieces. In fact recordings took place with the band knowing that they would not have any financial backing from the label to promote the album, this become the band's first self-funded album. This would become the standard for the band, and still is to this day. Furthermore, the album was a departure from the lengthy pieces, with short, independent works taking its place. Once again, The Enid put forth a concept album (loosely speaking), this time about the band members themselves.

Opening the album is Punch and Judy Man, a schizoid piece of music, features the band at their rockiest, and is as close as the band would come to being actual progressive rock. A notable feature is the odd prominence of drums, supplied by newcomer Robbie Dobson. Once She Was, the band's interpretation of Scarborough Fayre (a traditional Yorkshire ballad), is marred by bland synthesizers, though it manages to pick up in the second half of the track. The Ring Master, while playful in melody, plods along for six minutes. The circus- themed track simply fails in capturing the interest of the listener, something rare for The Enid.

Sanctus, a religiously themed piece, has a heavy Vangelis influence to it, rather than the usual classical inspiration that is commonplace on The Enid's albums. Hall of Mirrors, the climatic piece of the album, hints at the use of an orchestra, though the piece is dominated by lush guitar work. The Dreamer, opens with layered effects akin to Albion Fair, though it is more percussive this time around. The main theme however, is what the title suggests, with everything moving at a languid and mellow pace. Nowhere to be found is the heavy percussion and the clashing of instruments, but only the marriage of the solemn keyboards and mournful guitars. It is the apex of not only the album, but of the original incarnation of The Enid.

As it was during the recording of Touch Me, Six Pieces was a rushed recording, even more than it was last time. It would be the last album the band would record for Pye Records, as they'd be dropped soon after the release of Six Pieces. Not long after that, guitarist Francis Lickerish would unsuccessfully try to take artistic control of the band. This would result in his departure, taking keyboardist William Gilmour with him in the process. For the time being, the loss of two vital band members would signal the end of The Enid.

Report this review (#1132025)
Posted Saturday, February 15, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Despite the problems with their label, The Enid were in a creative mood at the end of the 70's and less than a year after the release of ''Touch me'' they reentered their studio to work on a new album.''Six pieces'' was recorded between August and September 1979, Terry Pack was no more among the members (although he occasionally helped the Enid as a session member) and he was replaced by Martin Russell.Now, there is an interesting rumour that the front cover, with the six members on a chess, was refering to the PYE label and the fact they were used as pawns than a proper signing.Anyway the album was released eventually in 1980.

The opening ''The punch and judy man'' was a huge suprise, it's quite complex keyboard-driven Symphonic Rock with many similarities to the sound of GENESIS with all these Moog synth effects and solos and the propelled rhythm section, althought the Classical and cinematic atmospheres are still present, but much more pronounced on the ethereal follower ''Once she was...''.''The Ringmaster'' finds The Enid in their familiar style of fairytale Symphonic/Classical Rock with the powerful orchestrations showered by the guitars of Steve Stewart and Francis Lickerish, I especially like the naughty flute parts and the interplays with the guitar and keyboards.''Sanctus'' is again closer to cinematic Classical Music, featuring some brilliant atmospheres based on the synth parts and the discreet electric guitars, but as with many of The Enid's offerings, this comes more into music arranged for orchestra than a Rock band.More of the same with ''The hall of mirrors'', excellent music for a Soundtrack and a guiding light for Classical Rock lovers, but somewhat losing the true progressive spirit.The 9-min. ''The dreamer'' is the longest track on the album.Half of the track is dedicated to a soft atmosphere exhibited on piano and light electric soloing, before turning into more bombastic orchestral music towards a grand finale, again this is contemporary Classical Music with minor rock elements than the fascinating Prog/Symphonic Rock The Enid played in their previous releases.

I am impressed by the extremely high artistic value of the album, we are talking about 1980 here, and the band still insists on creating technically flawless cinematic music.The rockin' vibes are somewhat reduced, but the bombastic atmosphere of the album will please fans of majestic, symphonic arrangements.Recommended.

Report this review (#1297126)
Posted Sunday, October 26, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ah, The Enid. A group I still feel is so overlooked in the 70s prog realm that it pains me a bit. While still active today the lineup we're talking about here is long since gone, with the backbone being the always present Robert John Godfrey and guitarist Francis Lickerish, who would depart after this record was cut. I might also add the date for this record is not correct - it was released in 1979, probably near the tail end but I have not found a month or day.

Onto the review, though. This outing is certainly different from the past three records The Enid released. What we have are six pieces each written by one of the members. I'd love to know who wrote what, but anyhow, it works well, and each track feels different. Punch and Judy Man starts with a very ELP esque bombast that The Enid rarely showed after In The Region... but it works quite well, going quiet in it's middle part before going back to the rockier bit. We now fade into the beautiful Once She Was, a piece that definitely isn't rock, but is absolutely stunning with a great melody and perfect atmosphere. The Ring Master is a bit of a sprawl, doesn't go much of anywhere and it might fly right by you. Not bad, but not particular a standout track. Sanctus is a track ripe with keyboards, as always, but with some nice guitar flourishes here and there. Hall of Mirrors is a piece all about the atmosphere, and works well enough. I'll admit, the albums quiet bits borderline on sleepy time music. Not a bad record to fall asleep to. Mind you, that isn't a bad thing.

Finally, the last track, err, two? My pressing has "Intro" and "The Dreamer" as separate tracks but others seem to have it as one track. Either way, same music. It's a great somber piece, in line with a lot of the other songs on the record. As mentioned earlier, it's a very sleepy album. Perfect right before bed or falling asleep to. Great piano playing and atmosphere from Robert John Godfrey as is the case with many The Enid pieces. On the whole, I recommend this one to any symphonic prog fans looking for something on the lighter side. It's a very classically driven album, one that is best played at night, maybe with a glass of wine or two. Four stars easily.

Report this review (#1479330)
Posted Monday, October 26, 2015 | Review Permalink
3 stars The first track, "Punch And Judy Man", starts with a complex and energetic composition. Drums, keyboards (three on this album) guitar and bass are fast and furious. Almost suddenly they change to a smooth and more minimalistic execution, introducing the piano and some synth layers. On its middle they go back to that initial proposal, and sustain it almost until the end of the song. One of the best tracks of this recording.

The next track is based on a traditional english ballad called Scarborough Fayr, whose lyrics were used by Simon and Garfunkel on a very succesful song. It's about someone executing some tasks to conquer his/her beloved heart. The Enid interpretation delivers for my perception a good dose of romance and an additional context that seems to place the story on the woods. This song would work well on a soundtrack with a similar narrative, but on this album I'd say it got a bit simplorious.

Third track, "The Ring Master", just as they did on the first, delivers a good and complex percussive use of the synths, along with the drums. It's also quick and energetic. Nice guitar playing, with some pompous and fine tunes.

Almost all of track 4, "Sanctus", is based on synth playing, delivering a more pastoral mood. The tunes aren't captivating. Guitar playing, participating very briefly, performs some pleasent layers, specially on the end, but not enough to save this part from being one of the weak points present on the album.

"Hall of Mirrors" begins with a slow and tenacious pace, very elegant and relaxing. The song transmutes to a very emotional guitar playing, over a bombastic performance of the synths. They mantain this highest level until the end. IMO, the best track.

Now this work reaches the last piece, called "The Dreamer". Its introduction is very interesting, evoking on me those bizarre dreams with mystery and abstruseness. Unfortunately this intrigating part is brief and becomes more predictable and simplorious on the rest of the track. Not even the fancy, orquestrated and loud use of synths on the finale saves this snippet from being poor.

3.3 stars on a five-star scale.

Report this review (#2893852)
Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2023 | Review Permalink

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