Age of Loneliness Review (Gavin Stok)
by Gavin Stok June 2 1996
White background with what appears to be a poster from the early 20th century. The poster contains a picture of what seems to be a cross between a skinny Santa Claus and a wizard with a collection of children's toys, some in a form of basket with writing on it which I can't read or interpret. At the bottom of the poster is a new Enigma logo and the single title. In the corners of the poster are diamonds with the figure 7 which trivia buffs (Hi Joar!) may relate to being the 7th track on the album. Finally in the background of the picture are a tree, sand, and a stone wall with an opening. Overall it is good to see some new cover art and yet another new Enigma logo!
More new art which is good to see. The CD is red with the same logo as on the cover in black and white along with mythical figures depicting major astronomical 'star clusters', Orion and Canis Minor of which were the only ones I identified (maybe it's not astronomy at all - I could be wrong!). All these shapes and names are in the same sort of surroundings as on the CD of The CROSS of Changes, that being some form of calendar or astrological dial.
Age of Loneliness has not grasped me as much as the EYES of Truth did. While it has a decent number of tracks (5), 3 are not of interest to Enigma fans - who needs a radio edit when you get the full version of the track anyway, and why want to listen to the album version if you already own the album?? On top of this the Enigmatic Club Mix did not grab me as much as the Gotterdammerung Mix of the EYES of Truth did, as explained later. Regardless, this release is a worthwhile one since Age of Loneliness is a good track and may encourage more people to listen to the music of Enigma (and initial chart details from the UK are proving this). Track-by-track:
My distate in radio edits has been stated many times - I just don't like them on singles! To give credit, however, the radio edit has been mixed well for this track, with there being no obvious parts where I cringed at an obvious cut out of certain segments of a track (which normally occurs for me!). My only surprise in this track was what seemed to be a Gregorian chant in the background at around 1:15 - this didn't link with the album version of the track at all and is rather faint to hear.
Clubby Radio Edit
*sigh* Another radio edit I will undoubtedly skip whenever I play this single since it is simply a shortened form of track 3 with nothing new added. In the case with this track, both the more melodic parts and the non-club-beat parts of track 3 were removed. If track 3 got repetitive or boring in parts, I may have been able to justify this track, but since track 3 delivers fairly well overall, it is not the case this time. In summary, this track is good for the die-hards who want a 'hard and fast' track from start to end, but will not attract most.
Enigmatic Club Mix
This was the only real track I bought the single for! As per the past few Enigma singles, the track starts of slowly and atmospherically with no beat (almost seems as if they'll link them later on, doesn't it?! *grin*).... In the first minute there is the chant along with the atmosphere, some airplane samples, and this S.O.S. (morse code) like sound (I don't know morse code so haven't investigated any possible secret messages!)..... After this the beat kicks (which includes this morse code sound) in with some more airplane sounds and in kicks some moaning and the new 'melody'. Two minutes and the chant is reintroduced followed by some more melodic type music with the beat at medium volume. Three minutes and there's some sample fiddling that occurs (the song is full of these little one-off samples)....the beat kicks back in, some vocals are sung, and the chant is then repeated again. Enter 4:15 and there's a new sample introduced - sampled off Yello's Baby album no doubt (an album I fully recommend by the way) and some more Gregorian chants jumping from speaker to speaker (but definitely not as profound as on Culture Beat's album version of Anything which I love). The rest of the track is pretty much a repeat of segments of the first few minutes with this new Yello sample and the Gregorian chants, although there is also a guitar-like sample introduced as well which is sampled from a famous song/band which I cannot recall.
All in all this mix is good but not brilliant. To me it was more of an experiment with sounds than anything else, and this is shown by lots of one-off samples and sound tricks. The problem with this is that it makes the song sound fancy, but it doesn't make the song sound structured. For me, the Gotterdammerung Mix of the EYES of Truth was incredibly well structured as well as introducing some nice sound tricks and new samples - it was bombastic at just the right time and used the right tricks to give the atmosphere during both beat-segments and non-beat-segments. The Enigmatic Club Mix of Age of Loneliness however, just seems to be some segments of the track with little samples and new melodies thrown together. Don't get me wrong, it is not a bad track, but it is not a track which grabs me and holds me for the entire 6 minutes regardless of its lack of repetition.
Jam & Spoon Remix
I have had this track for a long time (having owned Carly's Song since late 1993) and can assure you that it is a remix of Carly's Song and not Age of Loneliness (see the FAQ for the differences between these 2 tracks). It begins brilliantly, with lots of echo on both the piano and the chant, giving the listener an ambient sort of feel for the song. Around the 45 second mark, the main beat kicks in, which is percussion and not dance beat. It is at 1:25 that another sample is added on top of the percussion, but you are still not hearing a dance beat in the true sense of the word - more a sense of electronics over percussion with chants to boot (it's hard to explain!!). This mix also has the use of a new panflute sample which Jam & Spoon use effectively throughout the whole single. I find this song a tiny bit too repetitve for my liking, with 2 minutes or so of it simply being a repeat of other segments of the track. It is not until 4 minutes into the track that we find a major change with the electronics changing and those Gregorian chants being introduced to jump from channel to channel (not as fast as on the Enigmatic Club Mix), in my view being used more effectively than track 3. Then it's off to a repeated segment again before the song ends.
All in all this is a good track but it would have been much better if it was shorter since the repetition becomes annoying after awhile. Regardless, Jam & Spoon, of recent Right in the Night and Find Me fame, have proven that they are great remixers of other people's tracks and did an admirable job on this track.
This has already been covered in other documents.
- Look at the other Age of Loneliness review