The Enid And Robert John Godfrey - The Music Of William Arkle... album review

Mystic-inspired classical ambience

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William Arkle’s easily overlooked. Born in 1924, he gravitated from public school to naval war service to painting, specialising in spiritual subjects. After hanging with Colin Wilson, Arkle wrote The Geography Of Consciousness. It described eight levels, with Higher Man, a God-like state, at the pinnacle. Henceforth, to a small faction, Arkle was considered a mystic, philosopher and theologian, as well as an artist – though some might say he was always more bloke than Blake. Arkle composed the opening trio of tracks here in ’68, but they were only arranged and performed in ’86 by The Enid’s Robert John Godfrey – two years before, Arkle’s painting The Father And The Mother was used as the cover of the band’s reissued In The Region Of The Summer Stars. The three pieces – Seascape, Somerset Sketches and Snowdonia – are very English, and very romantic: imagine Delius stripped back to the verge of ambience. They were originally given away to The Stand (The Enid’s fan club) on cassette. Now padded with three further tracks (both movements of RJG’s classically ambient Reverberations, plus a sax version of Evensong) it’s pleasant, but more diverting than essential.