Electronic & Choral Avant Garde, Engima Releases Greatest HitsBy Eric Chemi
Enigma’s latest album, Love Sensuality Devotion -- The Greatest Hits proves to be a delightful mix of electronic and new age music. In addition to the collection of past hits, Enigma's latest single “Turn Around” is also featured on the album.
The average mainstream music listener today probably confuses Enigma with Enya, and thinks of Enigma as the girl who sings that one song “Return to Innocence” which always gets played on those “Pure Moods” television commercials. In fact, Enigma is the work of Michael Cretu (a.k.a. Curly MC), whose extensive use of keyboards and sampling leads to this unique blend of music. He sings most of the male vocal roles, while the female singing parts are filled by his wife, Sandra Cretu. She is the one who does sing in “Return to Innocence,” which is also on this album, but the creative force driving Enigma is definitely her husband Michael. In general, however, most of the songs do not extensively use vocals.
The songs spread out among a wide range of tastes. Chants, quiet instrumental sounds, electronic beats, and a distinctive pop-sound accurately describe the variety of sounds that can be heard on the album, or even in just one Enigma song. “Gravity of Love,” is a great example of portraying Cretu’s skill at merging these sounds. The song begins with slow-paced vocals from Ruth Ann-Boyle that could even pass off as being the basis for a more mainstream tune. After about a minute, chants pick up in the background, and a few seconds later subtle whispers begin to reverberate. The mix among these sounds stays throughout the rest of the song.
Those who are familiar with the work of Delerium will find Enigma's work to be in much the same style. One striking example of this similarity is from Enigma’s “Sadness Part 1.” The chant that begins the first three seconds of this song will remind listeners of the opening to Delerium’s “Silence.” But then the chants abruptly give way to a persistent drum line that is reminiscent of Delerium’s “Euphoria,” also off their album Karma. In addition to just this one example, the Enigma’s sound in general is as close to Delerium as any other musical group out there. However, this album proves to be more upbeat and exciting than expected, and is certainly not the same as any other work, standing alone in its uniqueness.
The album’s songs can be separated into two groups: those that revolve around heavy synthesized electronics and chants, and those that are primarily structured around the vocals. Most of the songs belong in the former category. If listened to from start to finish, a few transitions between songs would be missed.
Overall, the sounds blend well together into one complete album. For the majority of people who are unfamiliar with Enigma’s music, this greatest hit compilation is definitely worth a listen. Over the past decade Enigma has churned out enough hits (yes, even radio hits) that at least some of them are familiar and, what’s more, they are sure to please any listener.
For a more intense fan of new age -- one already familiar with the Enigma's earlier music -- this album only contains one new song, but the convenience of having such a great collection on one CD is in itself a good reason to buy. There is no mystery to this Enigma -- this album is a keeper.