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The Enid

Symphonic Prog

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5 stars The Enid were probably the only truly symphonic rock band that ever existed, and 'Touch Me' captures them in all their glory.

The album opens with a suite of four tunes called 'Charades' in which the band's many and varied influences can be heard. In this piece one can detect Renaissance rhythms in 'Cortege', Elgarian marches in 'Humoresque ; Chopanesque touches in 'elegy', and an outrageous Johan Strauss send up in 'Gallavant' --an astonishing piece which culminates in a strict Bach-like fugue that seems to be based on a Bruckner melody (or maybe it's the second movement of Mahler's 1st. . .who can tell anymore?)

The last track is called 'Albion Fair' and is another 20 minute extravaganza. This one shows some decidedly 20th century influences although they're hard to pin down. Walton's 'Portsmouth point' comes to mind.

At the end of the day, this is no mere "classical rock" album, just as The Enid were no mere "Classical rock" band. 'Touch Me' is a beautiful and witty synthesis of, well, of 400 years worth of musical history to be exact. With a frame of reference like that, it's no wonder they didn't really catch on.

Report this review (#25885)
Posted Tuesday, June 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars They succeed in touching my heart after every new listen in!! It should deserve also the maximum score, especially when They reach their "top level" of inspiration ...the most innovative passages I mean, such as those ones within the fourth part of Charades Gallavant, which are essential and characterized by a splendid use of violins and woodwinds as well (in a polyphonic excursion), also when the synthesizers replace the brass section: it's a classical atmosphere, enriched by means of fine arrangements and tasteful themes!! Instead the previous track "Elegy" is a bit out of contest, that is without their usual symphonic atmosphere, even though the classical piano is quite original and "odd" too.I prefer the second track "Cortege", with a delicious oboe as an opener, in a medieval atmosphere, a bit dark but very melodic, representing their most accessible moments!! Then I like to remark another small jewel like "Albion Fair", resembling their strangest use of diverse effects (sometimes a bit psychedelic), within an "orchestrated" apparatus, which is a "trademark" by The Enid!!

The last track "Joined by the Heart" is the realization of such "Classical Music", perhaps it's too much long,being anyway pretty inspiring: as for all these reasons to me the whole project is enough to be regarded as a recommended album!!

Report this review (#25888)
Posted Friday, July 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
4 stars In the late Seventies and early Eighties I used to travel by ferry and train to the heart of London. On these 'progrock pilgrimages' I discovered the Virgin record store and took a dive into their large progrock section, ranging from Ange and Gandalf to Flame Dream and ... The Enid. I had already some LP's but "Touch me" was new to me. I still love the cover: a red color with the picture of the upper back from a young woman with wonderful plaits and a tattoo that contains three boys and "Touch me"written under it, enigmatic and mesmerizing! The music is very classical inspired with amazing classical orchestrations, wonderful acoustic piano, blended with some fiery and howling electric guitar and propulsive drum beats. The alternating and dynamic climates range from ambient, dreamy or mellow to up-tempo and bombastic, sometimes with a strong Wagnerian undertone, very compelling and exciting! THIS IS A UNIQUE ENCOUNTER BETWEEN CLASSIC AND PROG!!
Report this review (#42790)
Posted Sunday, August 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars The third album by The ENID led by keyboardist-composer Robert John Godfrey. It is symphonic instrumental music the same way as VANGELIS was (in his albums like Heaven & Hell). The sound is very similar; frankly I don't easily recognize guitars as the Vangelis-like layers of keyboards dominate the music, whether it's shorter pieces with a classical structure ('Humouresque', 'Elegy') or longer, spacey and meditative tracks. I don't go into track details except it's funny to hear in soft piano of 'Elegy' a fragment of melody from Simon & Garfunkel's 'Old Friends', and also Peter Hammill's 'Sleep Now' comes to my mind. But in most cases it's SO close to Vangelis, especially in the long tracks.

I really could give 4 stars, but even if the music here is absolutely well done and approaching classical standards of composition, there is not that SOMETHING that would make me deeply dive into it. The other night I was watching the starry sky from my balcony with this album playing in the background. That somehow describes its nature well: suitable music when "in the mood", but doesn't grab me like Vangelis is capable to do. And when I want classical sort of music I rather listen to real classical music. But that's just how I see it: definitely worth checking out if you like this kind of instrumental music between classical and rock. One earlier review makes very educated comparisons to various classical composers. Godfrey is no doubt a skillful - if not always so personal - composer, but I need to hear more ENID before bigger appreciation.

Report this review (#55135)
Posted Tuesday, November 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The third work of THE ENID released in 1978 "Touch Me". A big classic romantic school rock work of the scale as well as the former work. The ensemble was enhanced further because of the staff increase of the keyboard. In all the points of the richness etc. of powerful, the delicacy, and the tone, as the classical rock, it is the current and highest perfections. Especially, the sound of strings that become basic of the entire tone is almost indistinguishable with a genuine orchestra. Moreover, the character is clearly made from throbbed work to a graceful work, and an excellent work also in the point of easiness to listen.
Report this review (#60290)
Posted Wednesday, December 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
3 stars Still I hesitate (after Six disappointing Pieces), but it's better. A little bit. Not exactly the music I like (I do, but not as extremely calm as it is. More in my previous review for SP). Last track improves it, but still, it's fails in my prog feelings mind, thoughts and sense of reality. But I understand that it may work with some people (even I though all my prog life that I'm that kind of people who are best suited for this music and to some extent yes, I am, but not for something so much .....)

3(+), because it's better, it's better. But I suppose that one can't like everything under the sun.

Report this review (#259429)
Posted Tuesday, January 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars While it's not exactly my cup of tea, the Enid's "Touch me" is the type of music to have tea to. It's a uniquely English take on modern symphonic music in much the way AMAZING BLONDEL filled the role for Elizabethan music, and in fact the album cover and the fine gentleman on display do make me think of Blondel during their very early period. Since ENID released this in 1979, it's clear they were even more out of touch, or perhaps they just didn't care, being obsessed with imparting their unique vision to those few who were willing to mail order it. My review is based on an LP version that contains "Dambusters March/Land of Hope and Glory" as the final cut after "Albion Fair".

Apart from the elegant and imposing "Cortege", not much of this grabs me, although it does make for good background listening at a low to middling volume range where I can have pretensions to being a sophisticated fan of the classics. Particularly on the first and last parts of the "Charades" suite, I feel like I am listening to an overture from "Wizard of Oz", or those introductions to the Wonderful World of Disney so ingrained into my early childhood. Both are lost without a context, and so is this. It needs some manner of visuals to set off the overly bright melodies. "Albion Fair" is more of a complete work, building slowly before the similar sprightly themes ebb and flow. What is most fascinating is how the impression is decidedly symphonic yet the instrumentation is largely rock. Since I can pretty much tell a guitar from a keyboard, I have to conclude that most of these sounds come from the latter. This puts the Enid into a similar camp to some of SYNERGY's work, although they really do strive to sound less synthetic. The closer is a full throttle "Land of Hope and Glory" that ends with all the bombast of a BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST finale from the Harvest period of which Robert John Godfrey was a part.

In a genre where so many are bandied about as unique, the ENID truly is, but I also suspect that others have volleyed about a similar premise only to conclude that neither artistic nor commercial fulfillment would result. I'm not going to lie and recommend this to any but the longhairs among you, but in the Enid's spirit of reaching out, I will do so and magically touch 3 stars.

Report this review (#264117)
Posted Wednesday, February 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars I was listening to an old Holy Modal Rounders album this morning, which is brilliant American folk revival music but something you can only do for limited periods of time at a stretch. In looking to something to cleanse my aural palette I tossed on 'Touch Me' since the Enid is about as far removed from the Rounders sound as you can get and I already listened to 'Aerie Faerie Nonsense' last week so that one is off the rotation for a while.

With 'Touch Me' Robert John Godfrey begins the gradual but steady injection of rock influences into the decidedly Wagnerian classical drama the band introduced with 'Aerie Faerie Nonsense'. Here there are only two compositions, both multi-part epics deeply rooted in classical construction but leveraging Francis Lickerish and Stephen Stewart's folk and rock-rooted guitar riffs to a greater degree than on the previous work. But just slightly more so.

The four-part "Charades" once again shows Godfrey in firm control of the band's artistic voice with lengthy and lush piano passages dominating throughout, and particularly on "Elegy" which is subtitled as the title track. While that passage is quite beautiful in its single-mindedness I much prefer the closing "Gallavant" section of this suite with its liberal use of lush synthesized strings, stilted organ and dramatic percussion. Like one earlier reviewer I've read, I also find myself feeling as if I'm witness to the soundtrack for a 1930s MGM grand film production. This isn't the sort of music you're likely to listen to as anything other than a backdrop to something else you're doing, but as such it sets a pleasant enough mood and I for one find it to be a great Sunday morning contemplative piece.

"Albion" on the other hand comes off as more like Disney music ala 'Fantasia' or some of the earlier jerky-motion black and white cartoon films. The production is less grand owning mostly to the unduly long introduction portion and the recurring woodwind/string passages Godfrey expertly pounds out on his digital keyboards. Great stuff from a classical sense, but not quite progressive rock to be sure.

These early Enid albums are as tough to classify as Joe Jackson's later (post-'Big World') instrumental works are: while the musicians, recording labels and packaging say 'art rock', the music belies this and we are left with what are actually contemporary classical works. If you're a fan of Jon Lord, Rick Wakeman and the like you may find this and the other 1970s Enid albums appealing; if not, start with their first album and work your way through the years until you're either hooked or become disinterested. Three stars out of five.


Report this review (#299709)
Posted Sunday, September 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The Enid were surprisingly one of the few prog bands with a growing fame during the second half of the 70's.In 1977 keyboardist William Gilmour was introduced to the group in the place of Charlie Elston.Terry King, the manger of the band, succeeded to make a deal with PYE Records at the time, one of the most expensive signings by the label.The band was even promised to have its own studio to work in.However things would go wrong from this point.PYE's boss Lew Grade was facing huge financial problems, the result was that the label was taken over by an inconvenient management, which pressed The Enid to record a new work.In December 78' the band entered their own home studio in Hertfordshire and recorded ''Touch me'' in a two-months period.The album was eventually released in 1979, featuring also Tony Freer on oboe and cor anglais.

Despite the hard period the band was facing during the recordings, ''Touch me'' ended up to be a very good album and one of the most ambitious The Enid ever created.It consists of two sidelong suites, the first being the 22-min. long ''Charades'', divided in four movements.Again the ability of Godfrey and company to combine romantic Classical Music with Rock is just phenomenal.Filled with intensive piano preludes, orchestral interludes and melodic electric instrumentation, the arrangement comes as one of the best in The Enid repertoire.Pompous, dramatic but also highly melodic, it mixes the fundamentals of Classical Music with both grandiose and laid-back orchestrations with the complexity of Progressive Rock, featuring the elegant guitar work of Steve Stewart and the impressive dual keyboard deliveries of Godfrey and Gilmour, mainly performed on organ and harsichord.Side 2 is taken by the 16-min. ''Albion Fair'' in a quite similar but more haunting style.''Part 1'' is an almost psychedelic, long introduction, based on keyboards, piano and strings with a somewhat spacey feeling, which works as an extended intro to the pompous and longer second part.This comes with more evident Classical-influenced arrangements and less Rock elements (at least on the guitar parts), but the music remains at an extremely high level with constant breaks and rapid changes, even if we are talking about pure Orchestral Music in a significant deegree.The soft moments follow again a very romantic path of orchestral passages, the more pompous ones are absolutely bombastic and powerful.A more pronounced guitar/bass/drums flavor would be welcome, but even so ''Albion fair'' stands as an incredible piece of complicated Classical-based Rock Music.

Another solid album by The Enid, a band refusing to sell out in front of the upcoming Punk and Disco fashion.The first part of ''Albion fair'' somewhat lowers the consistency of this release, the rest of the album though is very good, cinematic Symphonic Rock of high quality.Strongly recommended, you can even chase down some of the interesting reissues, most of which contain a fair amount of extra material...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#1074301)
Posted Saturday, November 9, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars With ever-growing fame in their homeland, The Enid was gathering quite the fanbase since the cult hits In The Region of the Summer Stars, and Aerie Faerie Nonsense. The Enid's growing popularity would gain them a spot on the roster of Pye Records, being one of the most expensive signings by the label. The band was even promised to have its own studio to work in. But financial problems would cripple the label, and was taken over by new management, rushing the band to record a new album. Over two months in 1978, Touch Me was recorded, and was released the following year.

Touch Me, another ambitious album by the band, consisted of two side-long suites, the first being the 22-minute long Charades, cut into four movements. Among the suite were intensive preludes, orchestral interludes, and well done melodic instrumentation. Immediately, the medieval influence heard on Aerie Faerie Nonsense returns once more on Humouresque, the first movement. Cortege, a funeral march, picks up the oboe melody hinted at in the previous movement, added with Renaissance-like drumming. Elegy, a more laid back piece, is more of a solo piece akin to The Lovers from the debut album. Gallavant, the final movement, brings back the upbeat feel of Humouresque, with a dramatic twist added in for good measure. The theme seems to be taken from Bruckner, though the arrangements are as lush one can imagine an Enid arrangement could be.

Albion Fair, a single 16 minute long piece takes up the entire second half of the album. The first part of the suite shows a rather different aspect to The Enid, with the usual lush orchestrations being ditched for a series of soundscapes and overdubs, giving the music a psychedelic touch. Comparisons to Tangerine Dream and Popol Vuh can be made here rather than classical composers such as Mahler or Bartok. The second part is by far the most complex of the musical arrangements that one finds on the album, if not throughout the band's history. Once again we get the polyphonic classical structures as rock band and classical orchestra clash together, at times bonded by the same theme. However one of the main features of this track is the variety of moods that it is able to convey.

Touch Me, a rushed affair by The Enid, managed to expand upon the themes displayed on its predecessors. However, the fact it was recorded in only two months and in their own home studio showed an obvious drop in quality compared to the albums before it. Problems with the sound quality, as well as the two suites being a tad bit too ambitious put a crutch on the album in general. In the situation the band was in, they put in a respectable effort. The tour for the album would do it justice though; similar to Genesis' And Then There Were Three. Unfortunately, the aforementioned financial problems would cause further problems for The Enid. And even touring wouldn't get them out of the inevitable.

Report this review (#1132024)
Posted Saturday, February 15, 2014 | Review Permalink

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