Enon is the brainchild of former Brainiac guitarist John Schemersal. After the premature demise of that group after the death of principal songwriter and keyboardist Tim Taylor, Schemersal went into seclusion, living in a Masonic temple in Kentucky for several months and recording a four-track acoustic album under the name John Stuart Mill. Then he decided he hated Kentucky, moved to New York City, and recruited Skeleton Key's Rick Lee and Steve Calhoon. And so it came to pass that Enon (named after a town near Schemersal's hometown of Dayton, Ohio) was born.
Like its members' previous groups, Enon displays an appreciation for junk noise and off-kilter song structures that makes every song totally unpredictable -- you definitely can't get comfortable with these guys because they're constantly pulling the rug out from under you. Like the Olivia Tremor Control and other Elephant Six bands, Enon is fascinated by the aesthetic possibilities of "damaging" pop melodies with strange noise and sound processing. But unlike E6 bands, whose melodic sensibilities tend to be shaped by the soaring pop of '60s and '70s bands like the Beach Boys, Big Star, and Pink Floyd, Enon takes cues from New Wave and '80s and '90s indie rock and build the noise on that foundation. In this regard, their rock deconstructions bear some similarities to those of the The Flaming Lips.
The songs on Enon's 2000 debut album, Believo!, vary widely, deriving character as much from bizarre samples, vocal overdubbing, crackly vinyl sounds, and totally messed up pots-and-pans percussion as from the melodies themselves. What they all share is a brilliantly unhinged quality and a booming catchiness. If you took cartoon music, made it rock, then made it dangerous, you'd have Enon. Their 2002 sophomore album, High Society, stretched the group's sound into a more straightforward live rock sound, thanks partly to the departures of electronics whiz Lee and percussionist Calhoon (who recommitted to their old band). Here Toko Yasuda of The Lapse contributes several dancey pop tunes, adding an entirely new facet to Enon's sound, while Matt Shultz took over on drums. Yasuda was an even bigger part of Enon's third album Hocus Focus, which arrived just a year later (following the In This City EP). Quirky tension remains one of Enon's calling cards, but the recipe has certainly changed quickly, with the group now adding trippy disco-tinged dance textures and fooling around with everything from dancehall to Japanese koto music as a way of complicating their fractured, restless art-pop. Hocus Focus doesn't entirely hang together as an album, thanks to its many directions and peculiar sequencing, but hats off to Enon for steadfastly refusing to rest on its laurels.