Observations: It’s time to go with the flow and appreciate the genius of Enya


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The Independent Culture

In David Fincher’s recent adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo, events build to a grizzly crescendo in the basement of a sleek Swedish house.

Here, (spoiler alert!) just as the villainous Martin Vanger is about to do away with his journalist nemesis Mikael Blomkvist, the house’s soundsystem erupts with music. The film’s dark score is by Trent Reznor, but now the unexpected sounds of Enya fill the air. “Orinoco Flow” (the “sail away” one) is the song.

Like most rational people, I generally try to avoid Enya. Being Irish this is particularly thorny. Any Irish person born after 1970 has a deep-seated distrust of the tenets of Celtic mysticism; it’s earthy swirl sends shivers up our spine (Fincher, the dark artist, knew what he was doing).

Yet, goddamit, in those dark Swedish confines, Enya sounds fantastic. As the synths pounded I wanted to punch the air - except I was in a busy cinema and cheering torture is frowned upon anywhere outside a get together of hawkish US Republicans. Sail away! Sail away!

And, it seems, Enya is suddenly everywhere.

In recent months we’ve had fine albums by female artists including Julia Holter, Grimes and Nite Jewel. To my troubled ears, they all to bear a hint of Enya floating airily within their more tasteful sounds. You could also mention electro-pop artists Niki and the Dove and Glasser here.

The New York Times went all out and ascribed Grimes’ “ethereal baby-doll sound” to “Enya’s hipper, younger party-girl cousin”.

Normally with any new crop of female artists, Bjork and Kate Bush are considered their natural forebears. But I’ll be damned if Enya shouldn’t be in the mix too: the indie influence that dare not speak its name. It’s in the ethereal vocals and the layered electronic sounds. Perhaps it’s not conscious: her new age vibes are just insinuating themselves into young musicians’ heads.

Or maybe hip hop pointed the way.

In early 2010, a mash-up from the strange South African rap-rave group Die Antwood emerged. The song “Orinoco Ninja Flow (Wedding Djs mix)” pitched Enya against Die Antwood; the latter’s track providing the background to filthy rapping by the former - with Die Antwood singer Yolandi chanting “sail away motherfuckers” on the chorus.

It has been reported that David Fincher wanted to cast the distinctive looking Yolandi as Lisbeth Salander in his remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Nothing came of it alas, but, it would appear, Enya remained in the filmmaker’s head.

Look out people, she’s everywhere, sailing in the ether.