Back in the seventies, The Enid were a very special progressive rock band from England. The band played mostly instrumental music and I always regarded them as a modern version of a classical orchestra. All the cello, violin, oboe, bassoon and flute parts were done with the keyboards supported by a strong rhythm section including timpani. The electric guitar parts always sounded melodic and they mostly replaced the vocals. I never missed the voice of a singer. The Enid were also special because they didn’t rearrange the compositions of the old classical masters, but they wrote all the music themselves. In general, the first two albums are considered to be their best releases. Indeed, today their debut album In The Region Of The Summer Stars (1976) and its successor Aerie Faerie Nonsense (1977) are still masterpieces. Since then they released about twenty albums including compilations and live albums. After their latest studio album Tears Of The Sun (1999) they kept silent for about ten years. The main reason for that was a serious illness of front man and keyboard player Robert John Godfrey.
In 2009 the band broke the silence and released a limited edition of the ‘new’ album Arise And Shine. Recently, this album had been repressed in order to show the power of the five current musicians. Besides, it was a technical preparation to finish the brand-new album Journey’s End that appeared in the spring of 2010 (see review). Seven of the eight tracks of Arise And Shine are rearranged versions of old pieces. The opening piece Castles In The Air - Fantasy and the second track Riguardon - The Dancing Lizard already appeared on White Goddess (1998). The typical Enid-sound is still prominent; with a little help from singer (!) Max Read, Robert John Godfrey knows how to make his keyboards sound as a real orchestra. The guitar and bass parts are now in the hands of Jason Ducker. His guitar play is just as melodic as Francis Lickerish and Stephan Steward played in the old days. Long time friend and the band’s first drummer Dave Storey is still available behind the drum kit.
The most modern tune on this album is Dark Hydraulic Forces Of The Id. The dance beats give you the idea that you are listening to an album made by The Orb. This track appeared for the first time on Tripping The Light Fantastic (1994), an album that contained some experimental dance beats on several tracks. In this song you also hear some short audio parts which feature human voices of, amongst others, Adolf Hitler. However, the classical elements and the beautiful electric guitar parts show that we’re still dealing with music performed by The Enid and not something done by The Orb.
The best parts on this release are the two new versions of songs that once impressed me when I listened to the band’s debut album for the first time. The Last Judgement and the title track In The Region Of The Summer Stars are the final tracks of this album that recently got an original release on CD for the first time. Hitherto only a completely new recorded version was available. Both mentioned tracks are still very recognizable on Arise And Shine despite the new arrangements. However, the titles have been changed in Apocalypse – Judgement Day and Avalon – The Summer Stars. People who are familiar with the original versions will have no problems whatsoever with the way they arranged these classical pieces. The only new track is the final Malacandra – The Silent Planet, a 12-minute long piece of music on which we can enjoy all the well-known elements of the band’s musical style. Both the melodic and dramatic parts are quite comparable to the music they wrote in the seventies. The only difference is the voice of Max Read. His singing is rather strong despite the extra devices he uses in order to attain some special effects. People who like this new track should listen to Journey’s End that was shortly released after Arise And Shine. That album features the same track and marks the beginning of a new era in the history of this fine British progressive rock band.
Arise And Shine can be regarded as a prologue to Journey’s End. It’s a nice album to get familiar with The Enid. The album is a ‘must have’ for people who like a blend of classical stuff and progressive rock music. Welcome back to The Enid!
***+ Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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