来源:Hot Press  2009年10月

作者:奈尔史托克斯(Niall Stokes)

翻译:

 

这是当代音乐史上最为惊人的传奇之一,当一位来自爱尔兰西北角偏远的多尼哥郡 (Donegal),名叫Eithne Ní Bhraonáin的瘦长女孩,第一次跟尼奇莱恩(Nicky Ryan)与他的搭档萝玛莱恩(Roma Ryan)联系的时候,几乎没有人看见她的潜力。

 

那是1970年代末期,当时的尼奇是一位颇负盛名的音响工程师与制作人,并已在许多爱尔兰专辑中施展他的听觉魔法,其中包括他与萝玛一起担任经纪工作的克兰纳德乐团(Clannad*在居尔特语的意思是家族),当时名字发音念成恩雅(Enya)的Eithne,即是这支转瞬间已经拥有多年历史的乐团成员,并已跟着她的兄弟姐妹弹了一阵子的键盘,不过,这样的合作并未维持太久,当关键的时刻到来,每一位乐团成员都要为他们对乐团的长期承诺做出决定,而恩雅、尼奇与萝玛决定一起追逐梦想。

 

对于局外人来说,这看似是一个不可思议且不太可能的结盟,但事实上却是严重的低估了尼奇莱恩的音乐视野与实力以及恩雅的才华,尼奇跟同时期最顶尖的爱尔兰乐手,包括深具潜力的Planxty乐团合作过,他一方面懂得将流行音乐延伸成摇滚乐,另一方面又喜欢就当代民谣音乐进行多样性的实验,他精通唱片制作,并且计划在他跟萝玛于都柏林北方的艾坦(Artane)郊区所拥有之房子的后方花园盖一间录音室,在这里,他可以充分发挥他掌控扬声器音量大小的功力,随着恩雅来到都柏林,他的想法得以与具备才华的艺人结合,就在要决定该如何踏出下一步的时候,他与具有视觉艺人背景,同时也是一位在做出高难度决定时的强势伙伴—萝玛跟恩雅结盟,他们同心协力成了永久的伙伴,以这间录音室作为他们的创作基地。

 

当时的恩雅早已是一位造诣过人、接受过古典乐训练的乐手,但她仍是选修了高等的钢琴课程来增进她的技巧,一开始事情的进展有点缓慢且危机四伏,因为在贫乏的年代里,想要维持生计真的很难,因此,她还得一边担任教授钢琴。他们三个人都有心理准备,置身在座落于艾坦的录音室这个与世隔绝的私人天地里,恩雅努力地创作曲子,尼奇则编排他的音乐魔法。尽管他们觉得在创作上有些进展,但是音乐产业本来就不好做,在爱尔兰更难做,到了1980年代,失业率飙升到空前的高峰,一切都需要耐心,而这个音乐创作共同体很有耐心。

 

接下来,恩雅为都柏林当地的一张精选辑写了一些演奏曲,萝玛直觉那些演奏曲有着一种电影的感染力,聆听那些演奏曲,让她的想像力自在翱翔、画面涌现,于是她把这些演奏曲送给著名的英国电影制片人大卫普特兰(David Puttnam *日后制作过《杀戮战场》、《教会》等片)听,让普特兰留下深刻印象,于是他将电影《青蛙王子》(The Frog Prince)的音乐创作重任交给恩雅,虽然专辑里头大多数的曲子都是管弦乐曲作品,但同时恩雅与尼奇亦在他们的音乐避难所,如今名为“Aigle Studios”的录音室中共同合作录制了“The Frog Prince”、“Dreams”这两首歌,主题曲的歌词则是由萝玛谱写。此时此刻,这个核心创作团队成员的才华得到了应证,而彼此的信任就是他们一起工作的关键,随着事情逐渐成形,尽管工作角色可能变动、重叠,有不同的变换,但很明显的,恩雅所代表的就是由三个人所组成的音乐体,其中恩雅是核心人物与歌手,尼奇是制作人,萝玛则是歌词创作者。

 

恩雅的曲子所拥有的电影音质让人难以抗拒,继《青蛙王子》之后,恩雅又接下了另一个任务,这一次是为BBC电视台制播的六个单元纪录片《居尔特人》(The Celts)谱写音乐,于是,在萝玛创作歌词同时与恩雅合写了一些歌,并由尼奇执掌制作的合作模式下,他们共同完成了一篇让人难以忘怀、飘逸动人的作品,诱使听者进入一个越来越独特的听觉世界,并有着丰富的戏剧性。这部于1986年录制的音乐作品,随后在1987年汇整成恩雅的同名专辑“Enya”,照唱片业的话来说,这是一张在发行上显得相对低调的BBC音乐作品,不过,它却带来了一次关键性的突破。

 

有些时候,你不得不惊讶骰子转动可以带领我们到出乎意料的地方,而且在最终还界定了我们的人生历程,如果说恩雅、尼奇与萝玛彼此之所以能吸引在一起,是环境、直觉与信任(还加了一点好运气)的组合,同时也存在着非凡卓越与意想不到的因素,那么,接下来还有更多意想不到的事情跟着发生,华纳唱片公司英国分公司的主席罗伯狄金斯(Rob Dickins)在听了“Enya”的专辑之后,完全对专辑着迷,于是,在都柏林所举行的一项颁奖典礼现场与歌手碰了面,并在几天之后,基于他难以理解的直觉,做出了一个纯然出于音乐信念的举动,他拿出了一张唱片合约,而恩雅,尼奇与萝玛接受了这张唱片合约。

 

一切早已注定,我记得我在恩雅首张专辑“Watermark水印”发行前听了专辑,专辑棒到让我感到十分惊讶,它成就了一个与众不同的优异性,大气势、亲密感、辽阔视野,交互体现,几乎如同菲尔史贝克(Phil Spector *创造Wall Of Sound制作风格的制作人,他透过传统吉他手与电子吉他手同时弹奏同一乐段,然后再添加上宛如管弦乐团气势的编曲风格,接着再用回声室的方式,呈现出声音的密度、层次感与回声效果)制作质感的曲子“Storm In Africa”,与“Watermark”这般细微、隽永、流露古典音乐美感,并唤起美好感觉的标题曲作品,安然共处于一张专辑之中。以类比合成器Prophet 5作为主轴乐器,然后将恩雅的歌声以层次感的处理方式置入在和谐、一致的壮阔歌声之中,将曾经被有些人狭隘的归类为新世纪音乐或是居尔特音乐的音乐,做了一次非常新鲜且让人印象深刻的尝试,不过,专辑里头也同样具有非常细致的流行乐感觉,特别是“Orinoco Flow”这首主打单曲,在这趟振奋人心的环游世界音乐之旅里头,从利比亚的底里波里市(Tripoli)到波斯神话《一千零一夜》中的乌木岛(The Isle Of Ebony),总计提及了20个地名,这首单曲受到极为正面且乐观的喝采回响,这首歌曲完全没有任何的冷嘲热讽,事实上,歌曲在歌词中提及了罗伯狄金斯,并以风趣的方式向狄金斯表达赏识之情,这是一首排行成绩相当惊人的畅销曲,歌曲在英国、爱尔兰与欧洲热门单曲榜登上第一名,这股排行气流连带地将专辑“Watermark水印”大力的推向了排行冠军王座,最终,专辑在全世界的销售超过了800万张,不过,在专辑刚发行的初期,恩雅,尼奇与萝玛就很清楚的知道他们拥有一首前所未有的畅销曲。

 

“诗的正义”(Poetic Justice *引申有美德受到褒扬之意)有可能是为了描绘某些事件而发明的用语,要知道,他们在创造恩雅现象时,每一个人的参与,还有他们在过程中所必须面对的变化,以及他们在个人与群体上所投注的苦功与决心,这一切都该得到认证的。

 

一位不知名的艺人的首支单曲就造就出“Orinoco Flow”如此轰动的成就,几乎让所有人感到惊讶。对恩雅而言,在这个其他艺人或许曾经尝试改变体制,为专辑展开巡回演唱造势的流行乐坛,最棒的是,这些事她都不必做,在首支单曲盘旋于排行榜顶端的气势带动下,“Watermark水印”专辑的销售也是大量增加,此外,也出现了专辑的大格局听觉要如何在现场演出中完美呈现的这般尖锐问题,但随着专辑的畅销,要去执行这个可能很难完成,而且很费力的事情的压力就变小了。

 

不做巡回演出的决定所带来的意想不到的好处是恩雅之谜持续成长,她是谁?她住在哪里?她是个什么样子的人?许多成就经常被误导为是一夜成名的艺人,很快的就会因为过度曝光而受到伤害,发现他们的歌唱事业逐渐凋谢,但恩雅永远都不会变成这样子的艺人,她与生具来的内敛性格,还有她希望隐私的作风,因为她独特的成功情形而更加稳固。

 

“Shepherd Moons牧羊人之月”专辑紧跟着在1991年发行,并成了另一张非常畅销的作品,它不但为恩雅的音乐创作团队带来他们的第一张英国金榜冠军专辑,也为他们突破了美国市场,这张专辑一路直航全美流行专辑榜,首度航入前20名海域。恩雅的音乐与其静悄悄的扩散力持续发酵,她的专辑有着比任何一张拥有优异排行成绩象征的专辑都要来得深厚的根基。1990年,杰哈德巴狄厄主演的卖座电影《绿卡》(Green Card)选用了“Watermark水印”专辑中的3首歌, 1991年,一部为喜剧演员史提夫马丁量身打造的浪漫喜剧片《爱就是那么奇妙》(L.A. Story)也用了3首恩雅的作品,其中包含了2首出自“Watermark水印”专辑的歌曲。当时已经是一张热销作品的“Shepherd Moons牧羊人之月”专辑也延续了相同的魅力,专辑中的多首歌曲展现优雅的魅力,奥斯卡名导巴瑞李文生(Barry Levinson)所执导的电影《玩具兵团》(Toys)选用了“Ebudae”,卖座电影《远离家园》(Far And Away)相中“Book Of Days”,热门影集《海滩游侠》(Baywatch)借用畅销单曲“Caribbean Blue”,金奖导演马丁史柯西斯(Martin Scorcese)深获好评的电影《纯真年代》(The Age Of Innocence)则是选择了“Marble Hall”。萝玛莱恩早期认为恩雅的音乐拥有一种非常特别的电影特质的观察力,被证实是具有先见之明且经得起时间考验的见解。

 

“Shepherd Moons牧羊人之月”专辑紧跟着在1991年发行,并成了另一张非常畅销的作品,它不但为恩雅的音乐创作团队带来他们的第一张英国金榜冠军专辑,也为他们突破了美国市场,这张专辑一路直航全美流行专辑榜,首度航入前20名海域。恩雅的音乐与其静悄悄的扩散力持续发酵,她的专辑有着比任何一张拥有优异排行成绩象征的专辑都要来得深厚的根基。1990年,杰哈德巴狄厄主演的卖座电影《绿卡》(Green Card)选用了“Watermark水印”专辑中的3首歌, 1991年,一部为喜剧演员史提夫马丁量身打造的浪漫喜剧片《爱就是那么奇妙》(L.A. Story)也用了3首恩雅的作品,其中包含了2首出自“Watermark水印”专辑的歌曲。当时已经是一张热销作品的“Shepherd Moons牧羊人之月”专辑也延续了相同的魅力,专辑中的多首歌曲展现优雅的魅力,奥斯卡名导巴瑞李文生(Barry Levinson)所执导的电影《玩具兵团》(Toys)选用了“Ebudae”,卖座电影《远离家园》(Far And Away)相中“Book Of Days”,热门影集《海滩游侠》(Baywatch)借用畅销单曲“Caribbean Blue”,金奖导演马丁史柯西斯(Martin Scorcese)深获好评的电影《纯真年代》(The Age Of Innocence)则是选择了“Marble Hall”。萝玛莱恩早期认为恩雅的音乐拥有一种非常特别的电影特质的观察力,被证实是具有先见之明且经得起时间考验的见解。

 

恩雅的音乐延续力也非常的深远,她的音乐不仅被电台广泛的播放,你亦可以在商店、电梯与酒吧,甚至是当你在等候电话转接的时候都听得到,恩雅的音乐并没有想要成为尖端或是前卫音乐的野心,但是,它却仍然以异乎寻常的方式捕捉了每一个瞬间,反映了为数惊人的凡夫俗子的生活与品味,他们所经历的日常生活的片断,以及寻求某种神秘或是超脱尘俗的行为,来做为对抗灾难的慰借,恩雅曲子中的那份萦绕心头、具有艺术氛围的特质是一个关键因素,不过,尼奇极为细心组合音墙的制作风格也是至关重要的,这可以从不同学院出身的乐手与制作人的协调性与专注力中得到证实。在1992年,“Enya”专辑经过全新母带制作之后,以“The Celts居尔特人”的专辑名称在美国发行,专辑中一首具有中古时代哥德氛围,歌声细微、以打击乐器为主导的歌曲“Boadicea”被卢贝松所执导的电影《碧海蓝天》(Le Grand Bleu / The Big Blue)选用,随后又再度在另一部电影中,这回是为改编自史蒂芬金小说的电影《梦游鬼惊魂》(Sleepwalkers)增添声响效果,在电影效应的激发下,难民营合唱团(The Fugees)在未经征询的情况下在他们的畅销曲“Ready Or Not”中取样了这首歌曲,节奏蓝调歌手马力欧(Mario Winans)在他2004年的畅销曲“I Don't Wanna Know”中再度取样了这首作品,恩雅并在后面这首歌曲中列为歌曲的共同创作者。

 

恩雅唱片销售的持续性成功,让在尼奇与萝玛座落于都柏林南部海岸的奇尼利(Killiney)新家中投资兴建全新的录音室的费用有了着落,拥有了这间录音室,恩雅的音乐团队变成了一个更加自我依靠的组合,在母带送交唱片公司之前,不会有其他人介入,他们会交出什么样的成品,这组核心团队会做得不好,或者是更好?三人合一的音乐女神:完美的绝配。

 

1995年所发行的“The Memory Of Trees树的回忆”专辑,成为了恩雅个人首张流行专辑榜前10名的专辑,以及她在澳洲、西班牙与瑞典的首张冠军专辑,她在此时已确立了国际巨星的地位,在世界各地拥有数百万名忠实的乐迷,而且在包括了日本在内的东方各地的乐迷也是与日具增,不过,她与尼奇、萝玛三人依旧忠于他们的爱尔兰根源,生活、创作与录音都在都柏林,而且经常演唱居尔特文,还有萝玛在歌词选择上丰富如织锦一般的语言,像是拉丁文与西班牙文。

 

1997年,恩雅发行了“Paint The Sky With Stars: The Best Of Enya星空彩绘—恩雅世纪精选”,之后,又相隔3年才于2000年发表最新录音室专辑作品“A Day Without Rain雨过天晴”,距离前一张“The Memory Of Trees树的回忆”已相隔长达5年之后的,其中专辑的前导单曲“Only Time”并成为了恩雅出道至今最畅销的单曲,单曲在全美热门单曲榜中攀升至第10名,同时也在德国与瑞士登上第一,这是一首以不同的方式展现独特生命力的歌曲,先举个例来说,它被美国NBC电视网选用为大受欢迎的电视影集《六人行》(Friends)的广告主题曲,此举带动了电台播放,继而刺激了专辑的销售,然后,2001年9月11号,回教激进派的极端分子所组成的盖达组织发动了一连串致命攻击行动,纽约世贸中心的双子星大楼倒塌,失去了数千条无辜的生命,这是自发生在二次世界大战期间的珍珠港攻击事件之后,美国遭受的最大灾难,此一事件最终的身亡数字甚至还高过那场血腥的战争。

 

在这些可怕的事件之后,一部由纽约人汇整恐怖攻击事件的画面而成的视觉影像作品出现在全球网路上,美国与世界各地的网友广泛的分享这部影像作品,而这支影像作品就是以“Only Time”这首歌当作衬底音乐,使得这首歌成了9/11事件的后启示时代氛围主题曲,歌曲的静默伤感为这个重大灾难所引发的毁灭与动乱提供了一个迫切需要的情绪转移,没有人知道未来会是怎样,或是这个恐怖攻击事件的荡漾余波会把我们带到哪哩,这首歌曲的主题得到了一种全新的急迫性支持,反映了一种唯有时间才能显现伤痕的深度,如果他们的伤痕真能痊愈,也唯有时间才知道需要多久才能痊愈的感受。因此,“A Day Without Rain雨过天晴”成为恩雅音乐生涯中最畅销的一张专辑,并缔造超过1300万张的专辑销售数字。

 

萝玛莱恩对于神秘流传的语言文字与语言学的兴趣也带来了另一种连结,早在“Shepherd Moons牧羊人之月”专辑,恩雅便以托尔金(Tolkien)的奇幻史诗著作《魔戒》一书里头的精灵族堡垒“Lothlorien罗斯洛立安”(*意旨盛开花朵的梦土)来为一首演奏音乐作品命名,这首曲子的命名在2001年得到了将这部史诗著作改编拍成电影的导演彼得杰克森的回馈,这个回馈包括了在《魔戒首部曲:魔戒现身》电影原声带中收录两首由恩雅作曲与灌录的作品,包括由萝玛以书中一种名叫辛达林(Sindarin)的精灵语言所谱写,出现在半精灵爱隆大会(The Council Of Elrond)情节中的“Aniron (Theme For Aragorn And Arwen)”,音乐的电影特质依旧清晰可见。

 

2005年发行的专辑“Amarantine永恒之约”在结构上相较于之前的专辑,有着较为浓烈的古典音乐色彩,比较少流行音乐的影响,此张专辑再度巩固了恩雅的成就,特别是在日本,她成了罕见的类型艺人,一个在欧洲与美国畅销,同样也会在这个日不落国畅销的国际艺人。专辑中也包含了一些由萝玛所创造的“Loxian文”(*注:是萝玛在以托尔金原著中的精灵语创作电影《魔戒首部曲:魔戒现身》主题曲“May It Be”之后自创的语言)所写成的歌曲,萝玛曾在《Water Shows The Hidden Heart》一书中提及这种语言。恩雅的乐迷完全不会因为要听的歌曲是用日文、拉丁文,或者是爱尔兰文与“Loxian文”所演唱而动摇,这或许是对恩雅吸引力深度的最佳衡量方式,就算歌词是深奥难懂的,音乐还是能够借由许多人可以感同身受的美感与思念的结合而穿透人心。

 

恩雅最近的一张专辑“And Winter Came冬季恋歌”拥有季节性的感觉,这张专辑原本的构想是要做一张圣诞应景专辑,慢慢演变成一张冬季音乐礼赞,专辑里头包括了重新诠释她最早在1988年曾经以居尔特文所演唱的“Oiche Chuin”(*“Silent Night”),虽然被视为是一张较有时间性的专辑,在一年不到的销售期间中,此张专辑也已经卖出近300万张,打进20多个国家的排行榜,而且为恩雅首次赢得了首张香港专辑排行榜冠军。从她先前的几张专辑看来,永远都无法得知一张保有古典乐的灵感、居尔特音乐的氛围与恩雅专辑中的流行音乐特质感觉,这样子令人难以捉摸的音乐组合专辑,其第二波销售动能可能会在什么时候绽放,这也让她得以自“Orinoco Flow”这首单曲突围国际音乐市场后,勇于在当代音乐历史中放手一搏。

 

这真的是当代音乐史上非常惊人的传奇故事,论成就,核心人物的表现,确实是超越了每一个参与者在踏上他们独特的旅程时最不可思议的想像,但是,那样子说好像是忽视了最重要的事实:恩雅的音乐团队—恩雅,尼奇莱恩与萝玛莱恩,打造了一种非常具有原创性的音乐,这种音乐以最令人难以想像的方式抓住了想像,抓住了世界各地忠实乐迷的心,回首出道早期以及他们为了建立一个基础联手打拼的岁月,就个人的观点来看,他们的成就似乎更加的温暖人心与耀眼。

 

他们所创造出来的恩雅音乐作品中的单纯与真实特质,让冷嘲热讽消失于无形,打造出一条真诚之路,制作出令人相当惊讶的音乐,历经一切达成目标。

 

我的天哪!歌曲流转,时光飞逝,自从原始的“Enya”专辑发行至今已经22年了,“The Very Best Of”这精选专辑把许多由这世上最耀眼的巨星跟她的挚友及音乐伙伴尼奇与萝玛莱恩所创作的这些跨越尘世的音乐—不同领域的音乐,全都聚集在一起,不过,未来依然还会有更多,更多的音乐诞生。

 

当然,唯有时间可以告诉我们未来的旅程会出现什么样的新转折与改变,但是,此时此刻,依然完美无瑕,依然怀抱着梦想:这才是了不起的成就。

 

It is one of the most extraordinary stories in contemporary music. Very few people would have seen the potential fully, when a young slip of a girl from Donegal, on the remote north western tip of Ireland, by the name of Eithne Ní Bhraonáin, first hooked up with Nicky Ryan and his partner Roma Ryan.

 

It was the tail end of the 1970s and by then Nicky was a well established sound engineer and producer, having worked his aural magic on a plethora of Irish albums, among them records by the band that he and Roma had managed together, trading under the name of Clannad (a gaelic word meaning family). Eithne – pronounced Enya – had been a member of that group for what amounted to the blink of an eye, slipping briefly in alongside her siblings to play keyboards. It didn’t last and so when the chips were down, and it was time for everyone involved to pledge their long term allegiance, Enya, Nicky and Roma decided to pursue a dream together.

 

To those on the outside it might have seemed like a strange and unlikely allegiance. But to look at it that way was to seriously underestimate Nicky Ryan’s musical vision and integrity, as well as Enya’s talent. He had worked with some of the finest Irish musicians of the era, including the seminal Planxty. His knowledge of contemporary music stretched into rock on the one side and the more experimantal branches of contemporary folk on the other. He had developed a mastery of the craft of recording, and planned to build a studio in the back garden of the house that he and Roma shared in the low key suburb of Artane on the North side of the city, where he could put his command of the speakers and the faders to even more productive use. All that was in his head when Enya arrived in Dublin, bristling with talent. When the call had to be made as to how to go forward, he and Roma – a visual artist by background and a powerful ally always in making the tough decisions – joined forces with Enya. They were in this together. They would be partners for the long haul, with the studio as their base.

 

She was already an accomplished, clasically trained player, but Enya took advanced piano lessons to further develop her skills. Things moved slowly, perilously so, and there were lean years when it was hard to keep the wolf from the door. She taught piano on the side. Collectively, they battened down the hatches. Enclosed in their private world in the studio in Artane, Enya worked on composing, and Nicky weaved his sonic spell. They felt they were getting somewhere but things were tough in the music industry generally and even tougher in Ireland, where, as the 1980s progressed, the level of unemployment was reaching record levels. It needed patience. As it turned out the triumvirate had that in abundance.

 

Enya wrote a couple of instrumentals for a local compilation record. Instinctively, Roma felt they had a cinematic appeal: listening to them her imagination ran free and the images flowed. She sent the tracks to the celebrated British film producer David Puttnam. Impressed, he commissioned Enya to write the music for the film The Frog Prince. While most of the album was orchestrated, Enya recorded two tracks, ‘The Frog Prince’ and ‘Dreams’, with Nicky, in the recording retreat they had by now named Aigle Studios. The lyrics for the title track were written by Roma, defining the moment at which the members of the core creative team definitively established their credentials, and the mutual trust that would be essential to their work together. As things evolved, while the roles might shift, overlap and be shared in different permutations, it became clear that Enya was a group consisting of three people, with Enya – or Eithne – as the focal point and lead singer, Nicky as producer and Roma as lyricist.

 

The cinematic quality to Enya’s compositions brooked no resistance. The Frog Prince was followed by another commission, this time to write the music for a six part BBC television documentary, entitled The Celts. With lyrics by Roma, some co-written with Enya, and Nicky in the producer’s chair, there was a haunting, ethereal quality to much of the work that enticed listeners into an increasingly distinctive aural world. There was also drama in abundance. Recorded in 1986, and collected onto an album in 1987, entitled simply Enya, in record industry terms it was a relatively low key BBC release – but it provided a crucial breakthrough nonetheless.

 

There are times when you have to marvel at the way in which a roll of the dice can lead us into unexpected places and ultimately define the course of our lives. If there was a remarkable and unpredictable synchronicity about the manner in which Enya, Nicky and Roma had been drawn together by a combination of circumstance, intuition and belief (with a bit of good fortune thrown in), then more was to follow. Rob Dickins, the chairman of Warner Music in the UK heard the Enya album and was enchanted by it. At an awards ceremony in Dublin he met the singer and, following up within a matter of days, on the basis of an instinct that he hardly understood, in a genuine act of musical faith he put a recording contract on the table. Enya, Nicky and Roma accepted.

 

It was written in the stars. I remember listening to Enya’s official debut album Watermark before it was released and being astonished at just how good it was. It achieved the remarkable distincton of being by turns both big and intimate, lavish widescreen, almost Spectror-esque production values on tracks like ‘Storm In Africa’ sitting comfortably alongside pieces of sparse and timeless classical beauty, like the wonderfully evocative title track. Using the Prophet 5 as its core instrument and layering Enya’s voice in vast banks of unison and harmony vocals, it was a fresh and impressive take on what people might have tried to pigeon hole as a ‘new age’ or Celtic sound – but there was a highly sophisticated pop sensibility at work too, especially on the lead single ‘Orinoco Flow’. An invigorating lyrical trip around the world that name-checked as many as 20 places – from Tripoli in Libya to the Isle of Ebony from the Persian tale from The Thousand and One Nights – as a single it became a wonderfully positive and optimistic opening salvo, its complete absence of cynicism reflected in the fact that Rob Dickins himself was accorded a humorous nod of appreciation in the lyrics. It was a massive hit, going to No.1 in the UK and in Ireland, as well as in the European Hot 100 – powering Watermark to the top of the charts in its slipstream. In the long run, the album would sell over 8 million copies worldwide, but even in the early stages it became clear that Enya, Nicky and Roma had an unprecendented hit on their hands.

 

There are events for which the phrase ‘poetic justice’ might have been invented. Knowing the individuals involved, the vicissitudes they’d had to deal with along the way and the hard work and determination which they had invested, individually and collectively, in launching the Enya phenomenon, it amounted to a thoroughly deserved vindication.

 

The massive scale of the success of ‘Orinoco Flow’, effectively the debut single by an unknown artist, took just about everyone’s breath away. Where other artists might have attempted to crank up the machine and go on the road in support of the record, the beauty of it was that Enya didn’t need to. Buoyed by the stratospheric chart performance of its lead single, Watermark was selling in vast quantities too. And besides there was a thorny question as to how the album’s huge sound might be represented effectively in a live context. The more the record sold, the less pressure there was to undertake what might have proven to be a difficult and costly endeavour.

 

The unexpected bonus of the decision not to tour was that the Enya enigma grew. Who was she? Where did she live? What was she like? There are many artists who, having achieved what is often misguidedly termed overnight success, suffer quickly from over-exposure and find their careers withering. Enya was never going to be one of them, her innate reserve and desire for privacy being bolstered by the unique circumstances of her success.

 

The follow-up Shepherd Moons was released in 1991. It was another huge hit, not only giving the Enya team their first UK No.1 album, but also delivering their Stateside breakthrough, as the album sailed up the Hot 100 and into the Top 20 for the first time. But what was happening with Enya’s music and its quiet proliferation, had a deeper root than the chart position achieved by any one record might indicate. In 1990, the Gerard Depardieu hit Green Card had featured three tracks from Watermark. In 1991, the romantic comedy LA Story, a vehicle for the comedian Steve Martin, also featured three Enya tracks, including two from Watermark. Already a hit, Shepherd Moons carried on in the same vein, tracks gracing Barry Levinson’s Toys (‘Ebudae’) the box office smash Far And Away (‘Book Of Days’), the hit TV series Baywatch (the single ‘Caribbean Blue’) and Martin Scorcese’s acclaimed The Age Of Innocence (‘Marble Halls’). Roma Ryan’s early insight that Enya’s music had a special cinematic quality was proving remarkably prescient and durable.

 

It went further too. Enya’s music was being widely played on radio; you heard it in shops, in lifts and in bars and even while you waited to be put through on the telephone. It had no ambition to be cutting edge or avant garde, but it had captured the moment nonetheless in the most extraordinary way, as reflected in the lives and tastes of an incredible number of ordinary people going about their fractured daily lives and seeking something mystical or other-worldly to act as a balm against the ravages. The haunting, atmospheric quality of Enya’s compositions was a key factor in this regard, but Nicky Ryan’s meticulously assembled wall of sound production style was crucial too, as evidenced by the fact that musicians and producers from the unlikeliest schools were also tuning in and taking note. In 1992, the Enya album was remastered and released in the US as The Celts. One of the songs on the record, the inspiringly gothic, breathy, percussion-driven ‘Boadicea’, had featured in Luc Besson’s Le Grand Bleu (The Big Blue) and in 1992 was again used in a movie, this time the adaptation of Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers, with resounding effect. Triggered by the movie, The Fugees would sample it without permission for their massive global smash ‘Ready Or Not’ and Mario Winnan would repeat the sampling exercise for his 2004 hit ‘I Don’t Wanna Know’, for which Enya was credited as co-writer.

 

With the ongoing success of Enya’s records, the money was available to invest in a new studio set-up in the house to which Nicky and Roma moved in Killiney on Dublin’s south coast and, with its construction, the Enya team became even more self-reliant. No one else needed to be involved until the master was delivered to the record company. What would they have had to offer anyway, that the core team couldn’t do as well themselves, or even better? Three persons in the one Goddess: it made perfect sense.

 

The Memory Of Trees, released in 1995 gave Enya her first top ten album in the US, and her first No.1 record in Australia, Spain and Sweden; she was now an established international star, with millions of loyal fans throughout the world and increasingly in the fertile territories of the east, including Japan. But, along with Nicky and Roma, she remained true to her Irish roots, living, writing and recording in Dublin and frequently singing in Gaelic, among an increasingly rich tapestry of languages that Roma was exploring in the song-lyrics, including Latin and Spanish.

 

The release of Paint The Sky With Stars: The Best Of Enya in 1997 meant that it was five years before the follow-up to The Memory of Trees was released. A Day Without Rain, launched in 2000, was trailered by the single ‘Only Time’, which became Enya’s biggest hit to date, climbing to No.10 in the US Hot 100 as well as No.1 in Germany and Switzerland. It was a song that, in different ways, took on a life of its own. In the first instance, it was used by NBC as the soundtrack to ads for the hugely popular TV series Friends, inspiring a resurgence in radio play that fuelled sales of the album. And then, on September 11, 2001, terrorists from the radical, extremist Muslim paramilitary group Al Qaeda launched a murderous series of attacks, the first of which saw the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York being toppled, and thousands of innocent lives lost. It was the single biggest disaster in the US since the attack on Pearl Harbour during the second world war, with the fatalities ultimately running higher even than that bloody act of war.

 

In the wake of these horrific events, a visual essay, showing images from the attacks, was assembled by a private New York citizen, put on the worldwide web and widely shared among internet users in the US and beyond. It used ‘Only Time’ as its soundscape and the track became a surrogate theme song in the post-apocalyptic atmosphere that prevailed after 9/11, its sad serenity providing a badly needed counterpoint to the profound sense of devastation and upheaval occasioned by the catastrophe. No one knew what the future held or where the fallout from the attacks would take us. The theme of the song had acquired a new urgency, reflecting the widespread feeling that only time would reveal the extent of the wounds that had been inflicted and how long it would take for them to heal, if indeed they ever would. A Day Without Rain went on to become Enya’s biggest selling album to date, with sales of 13 million.

 

Roma Ryan’s intertest in esoteric languages and linguistics meanwhile was proving another source of connectivity. As far back as the Shepherd Moons album, Enya named the instrumental ‘Lothlorien’ after the elven stronghold in Tolkien’s fantasy Lord Of The Rings. Peter Jackson, the director of the films based on the book, reciprocated in 2001, including two songs composed and recorded by Enya in the Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of The Rings soundtrack, including ‘Aniron (Theme For Aragorn And Arwen)’ in The Council of Elrond sequence, with lyrics written by Roma in Sindarin. The cinematic quality of the music clearly remained undimmed.

 

Amarantine, released in 2005, was more classically shaded and less obviously pop influenced in its textures than its predecessors. It further consolidated Enya’s success nonetheless, especially in Japan, where she has become one of that rare breed, an international artist whose sales in Europe and the US are mirrored in the Land of the Rising Sun. It also contained a number of songs with lyrics in Loxian, a language created by Roma Ryan, which she has written about in the book Water Shows The Hidden Heart. It is perhaps a true measure of the depth of Enya’s appeal that her fans are undaunted by the prospect of listening to songs sung in Japanese, Latin and Irish as well as Loxian. Even where the lyrics are abstruse, the music is shot through with a seam of beauty and yearning with which a huge number of people can identify.

 

There was a seasonal aspect to Enya’s most recent album, And Winter Came. Originally conceived as a Christmas record, it evolved into a celebration of winter, including a reworking of ‘Oiche Chuin’ (or ‘Silent Night’), which she had first recorded in 1988. Always seen as a more time-sensitive release, less that twelve months on, it has sold almost 3 million copies, charting in over 20 countries and earning Enya a first ever No.1 in Hong Kong. But as with her previous albums there is no knowing what might spark a second wave of momentum for a record that retains the elusive combination of classical inspiration, Celtic atmosphere and pop sensibility that has defined Enya’s work – and which has allowed her to stake such a unique place in the history of contemporary music, since she first exploded onto the international scene with ‘Orinico Flow’…

 

It truly is one of the most extraordinary stories in contemporary music. In terms of success, the central protagonists have surely exceeded the wildest expectations of everyone involved when they started out on their singular journey. But to put it like that is to bypass the essential truth: that Enya the group – that is Enya, Nicky Ryan and Roma Ryan – have forged a sound of remarkable originality which has captured the imagination and the loyalty of fans all over the world in the most fantastic way. Looking back to those early days and the battle they fought together to establish a foothold, in personal terms their success seems all the more heart-warming and brilliant.

 

There is something pure and true about what they have created in the music of Enya that defies cynicism, forging a path of integrity and making music of startling breadth and reach in the process.

 

My, my – as the song goes – time flies. It is 22 years since the original release of Enya and this album brings together so much of the earth-spanning music – the music of the spheres – created over those years by one of the world’s biggest stars and her close friends and partners in music, Nicky and Roma Ryan. But there is still more of this to come. A lot more.

 

Only time will tell what new twists and turns the journey might take in the future. Of course. But to have arrived here and now, intact and still dreaming: now that is some wonderful achievement.

2016年12月29日

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