Enigma (musical project)

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Origin Germany
Genre(s) World beat
New Age[1]
Years active 1990–present
Label(s) Virgin
Associated acts Gregorian
Website http://www.enigma.de/
Michael Cretu
Andru Donalds
Ruth Ann Boyle
Margarita Roig
Former members
Sandra Lauer (1990-2003)
Jens Gad (1993-2003)
Peter Cornelius (1990-1994)
David Fairstein (1990-1999)
Frank Peterson (1990-1991)
Louisa Stanley (1996-2006)
Elisabeth Houghton (1999-2001)
Notable instrument(s)
Drum machine

Enigma is a German electronic musical project founded by Michael Cretu, David Fairstein and Frank Peterson in 1990. Cretu, who based his recording studio A.R.T. Studios in Ibiza, Spain in the early 1990s is both the composer and the producer of the project. His former wife Sandra often provided vocals on Enigma tracks. Jens Gad co-produced and played guitar on three of the Enigma albums.

Seven studio albums have been produced under the name of the project. Their first and most successful album, MCMXC a.D., sold more than 16 million copies worldwide.

Enigma was among the first recording groups to use a digital audio workstation as a recording studio and to include non-percussion musical instrument and vocal samples, such as the Shakuhachi flute and Gregorian monk chants.


[edit] History

From the late 1970s onward, Michael Cretu already had his own music career on his hands and apart from some collaboration efforts with several other musicians, he also produced his wife's albums. Before Enigma, he released a number of albums under his own name, but none of them sold particularly well. Cretu revealed in an interview that he believed that his ideas were running out at that point.

In December 1990, after eight months of preparation, Cretu released Enigma's debut album, the groundbreaking MCMXC a.D., which received over 60 platinum-level sales awards worldwide. The album was Cretu's first commercial success through the single "Sadeness (Part I)," which juxtaposed Gregorian chants and sexual overtones over a dance beat that was highly peculiar to the ears of the public at that time. Cretu explained that the album was about unsolved crimes and philosophical themes such as life after death, hence the name Enigma. He had previously used a Gregorian-type chant on the opening seconds of Sandra's 1987 single "Everlasting Love," without integrating them into other parts of the song. "Sadeness" quickly rose to the top of the charts in Germany and France; it went on to become an almost-worldwide hit. Later Cretu would claim that the now signature Enigma sound was inspired after falling asleep on the London Underground.

Before the album was released, Cretu was cautious of the response towards the upcoming album, decided to forgo mentioning his and most of the personnel's real name and credited himself as Curly M.C., while the album sleeve contained little information about the background of the project, furthering the mystery about the creators of the album and leading to speculation whether Enigma was a band, a person or a group.

In 1993, Cretu was given an offer by producers to compose the full soundtrack of the motion picture Sliver, but he was unable to accept the offer. Instead, he came up with "Carly's Song" ("Age of Loneliness" in the album and video releases) and "Carly's Loneliness," which were used in the movie and credited in the motion picture soundtrack as well.

In the same year, The Cross of Changes was released and it received about the same, if not an even larger and better response from the public (it sold 6 million copies in a year). However, both of the albums also hitched up lawsuits over the issue of sampling from other music sources.

In 1996, Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi! (French for "The King is dead, long live the King!") was released. Cretu's idea was that this third album was the child of the previous two albums, and therefore included familiar elements of Gregorian chants and tribal chants in it. Though the album was as meticulously crafted by Cretu as the earlier two albums, it failed to achieve the same level of success that they enjoyed. As a result only two of the three singles originally slated were released, with the third one ("The Roundabout") being silently cancelled in 1998.

The 1999 release of The Screen Behind the Mirror included samples from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana on four tracks on the album. This time the Gregorian chants were toned down a lot, but still Shakuhachi flutes and other traditional Enigma signatures remain. Only "Gravity of Love" and "Push the Limits" were released as singles from the album. Ruth-Ann Boyle from the band Olive and also Andru Donalds mark their first appearance on the Enigma project.

In 2001, Cretu released a new single called "Turn Around" together with Love Sensuality Devotion: The Greatest Hits and Love Sensuality Devotion: The Remix Collection to end what he considers to be the first chapter of Enigma. A light show was held at the Munich Planetarium in conjunction of the release of the compilation albums.

2003's Voyageur was considered by many to be a total makeover of the project. Practically all of the prominent Enigma signature elements (the ethnic and Gregorian chants, the famous Shakuhachi flutes) were no longer in use for this album. As a result many fans had difficulty appreciating this new direction and sales were affected. From a statistical point of view, every Enigma studio album to date has sold roughly half of what the previous release did.

To commemorate the fifteen years of Enigma, a very special limited-edition album called Fifteen Years was launched, which was the size of an old LP vinyl disk, with Leonardo Davinci's art in the cover, a big booklet with extra art, and featured eight compact discs; all the previous albums, the DVD "Remember the Future"; and a special and exclusive bonus CD that was called The Dusted Variations, which included the project's greatest hits remade by another project. All of the songs were very different from the originals, and it sounded very dreamy and had almost no percussion. This disc also contained the single version of “Hello and Welcome,” which was later released as a single. Also, the DVD of Remember the Future featured in the box was slightly different because it contained the extra video of the single "Voyageur," and it had extra commentary in the extra part, called “Solve the Enigma.”

On August 28, 2005, Enigma's management (Crocodile-Music.de) announced the release of the project's latest single, "Hello and Welcome," which was originally slated to be released in October, however it was moved to November 25, 2005, and finally was released in Germany on March 10, 2006. The song was also the walk-in music of the German boxer Felix Sturm and, much like Voyageur, shows little similarity to earlier Enigma works.

On September 26, 2006, Enigma's sixth album A Posteriori was released worldwide, containing a new version of "Hello and Welcome" and the new song "Goodbye, Milky Way," which, despite earlier announcements, was not released as a single. The album is more techno- and pop-oriented electronic music than any previous one. The concept is based on such sciences as astronomy, physics, history, and sociology.

A DVD version of A Posteriori was released on December 16, 2006, which featured kaleidoscope images in synchronization with the multi-channel remastered music.

In late March 2007, a special private lounge remix album version of A Posteriori was released on the iTunes Music Store. This compilation includes 12 new remixed tracks from the album by artists such as Boca Junior, Tocadisco, and more. Some of these tracks were available previously on the original A Posteriori iTunes version of the album and on the previously mentioned DVD release.

Released worldwide on 19 September 2008 was Enigma's seventh album, Seven Lives, Many Faces. The new album expands the sound catalogue of previous releases and was expected to lead to a new omni-cultural wave of music. The lead single, "Seven Lives," is a powerful fusion of modern and classical elements.

[edit] Influence

Enigma's first two studio albums also led to the creation and popularity of bands and musical groups that follow similar styles, often called "Enigmatic Music". Era and Gregorian (led by former Enigma member Frank Peterson) are among some notable groups which capitalised songs which heavily incorporate Gregorian chants in their works. Enigma and Deep Forest are also to be considered by many to have brought the tribal chant genre to the ears of the public. Achillea, a musical project by co-producer/guitarist on several albums, Jens Gad, features music with similar atmospherics, while featuring female vocals in different languages, with different singers from different parts of the world. Enigma also influenced Christopher von Deylen's musical project Schiller. The influence can be heard in any album by the band. Cretu's musical project is also included into the list of influences of Schiller.[1]

Critics and fans have noted down the probable influences if not similarities of Enigma and the works of other notable musicians. Some examples include Delerium's Semantic Spaces album, Mike Oldfield's albums, The Songs of Distant Earth and Tubular Bells III, all B-Tribe's albums as well as other Claus Zundel projects and Sarah Brightman's cover of Hooverphonic's song, "Eden".

Several prominent songs from the project have appeared on notable TV shows and movies:

Song Type of Work Name Comments
Beyond the Invisible TV series La Femme Nikita
Carly's Song Movie Sliver
Gravity Of Love Movie The Scorpion King In the preview trailer
I Love You ... I'll Kill You Movie Money Train
Eraser In the preview trailer
Modern Crusaders TV series La Femme Nikita
Principles of Lust Movie Single White Female
Return to Innocence Movie Man of the House In end credits
Exit to Eden (film)
TV series The Outer Limits In episode The Conversion
My So-Called Life
Cold Case In episode Sanctuary.
The L Word
Sadeness (Part I) Movie Boxing Helena
Charlie's Angels
Single White Female
Exit to Eden
1492: Conquest of Paradise In teaser trailer
Tropic Thunder In a faux trailer for Kirk Lazarus' upcoming film
TV series Cold Case
Chappelle's Show
Smell of Desire Movie Bounce In the preview trailer
TV Series Temptation Island
The Eyes of Truth Movie The Matrix In the preview trailer
The Long Kiss Goodnight

"Return to Innocence" also appeared in numerous TV commercials around the world, including one for Virgin Atlantic.

[edit] Sampling and lawsuits

In 1994, Cretu was sued by Munich-based choir Capella Antiqua and its record label, Polydor Germany for infringing its "right of personality" through distortion in the samples used in "Sadeness (Part I)" and "Mea Culpa". The samples were taken from Capella Antiqua's 1976 LP Paschale Mysterium, and while the musical compositions were in public domain, Capella Antiqua's recording of them was copyrighted. European law also recognizes moral rights (droit moral) in works that American copyright does not.

Cretu was not spared over the issue of sampling when in 1998, Difang and Igay Duana from Taiwan's Ami tribe filed a suit over uncredited vocals in "Return to Innocence". Both of the lawsuits have since been settled, but besides compensation and acknowledgement on the source of samples on both lawsuits, the anonymity that Cretu intended to keep after the release of the first album was shattered due to the first lawsuit.

The samples used in the production of the third and fourth studio album, Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi! and The Screen Behind the Mirror were credited properly and Cretu's fifth album, Voyageur contained no samples at all.

[edit] Discography

[edit] See also

[edit] Sources

[edit] References

[edit] External links

[edit] German

[edit] English

[edit] Polish

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