Contemporary dance entity
Michael Cretu, the man who is Enigma, declared his creative philosophy in a Virgin Records press release: “Old rules and habits have to be rejected and dismissed so that something new can be created.” Even though Europeans were hip to Cretu’s identity, early U.S. press information billed Enigma as the creation of a German producer who preferred to remain anonymous. “With Enigma,” Cretu explained to Larry Flick in Billboard, I have created a complete piece of music that I wanted to let stand alone. There is a sense of mystery in the music that I wanted to leave untouched by the perceptions and preconceived ideas that come with the past history of a producer or a songwriter.” He continued, “Contrary to the usual record company philosophy, people areopen-minded and starved for something unique. This is music that is different from any other available at the moment. I think people have responded to that.”
Born on May 18, 1957, in Bucharest, Romania, Cretu pursued an early goal of becoming a concert pianist by studying classical music. In 1965 he attended Lyzeum No. 2—a college for young and gifted musical talents—with piano as his main subject, and he also studied for five months in 1968 in Paris, France. From 1975 to 1978 he attended the Academy of Music in Frankfurt, Germany, where he earned a degree in music. Deserting his goal of classical music, he claimed, “I started writing hits the day I sold my piano.”
In 1980 Cretu won his first gold record for his production work. The artists with whom he has been associated include Hubert Kah, Peter Cornelius, Moti Special, and Sylvie Vartan. Cretu has also won gold record awards for producing albums by his wife, Euro-dance chanteuse Sandra, and multi-instrumentalist-composer Michael Oldfield. Since 1985 Cretu has produced seven albums for Sandra, including her first international hit single, “Maria Magdalena,” which went to Number One in more than 30 countries. Cretu released his first solo album on Virgin, Legionäre (which means legionnaires), in 1983, but his solo efforts before taking the name Enigma failed to earn U.S. distribution.
Inspired by such groups as the Art of Noise and Pink Floyd, Cretu assembled Enigma’s debut album, MCMXC a.D.(the roman numeral representation of 1990), on an AudioFrame system at his home studio in Spain. MCMXC a.D.was released on December 3, 1990, in Europe through Virgin Germany and on February 12, 1991, in the U.S. through Virgin/Charisma. The LP eventually sold more than 12 million units worldwide,
For the Record…
Band consists of Michael Cretu, born May 18, 1957, in Bucharest, Romania; married Sandra Lauer (a singer), 1988. Education: Studied classical music at Lyzeum No. 2 in Bucharest, 1965; studied music in Paris, France, 1968; attended Academy of Music in Frankfurt, Germany, 1975-78, and earned a degree in music.
Producer, composer, and arranger. As Michael Cretu, released first album, Legionare, Virgin, 1983; as Enigma, released debut album, MCMXC a. D., Virgin/Charisma, 1990 (Europe), 1991 (U.S.).
Awards: Gold records for producing albums by Michael Oldfield and Sandra in Europe; platinum album for MCMXC a.D.in U.S., 1991; platinum record for single “Sadeness Part I,” 1991; double-platinum album for MCMXC a.D., 1993; platinum album for The CROSS Of Changes, 1994; gold record for single “Return to Innocence,” Virgin/Charisma, 1994; gold and/or platinum awards for MCMXC a.D.in 25 countries; Echo Award for most successful German production abroad, 1995, for The CROSS Of Changes.
Addresses: Record company —Virgin Records, 338 North Foothill Rd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210; or 1790 Broadway, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10019. Management —Nizzari Artist Management, 410 West 25th St., New York, NY 10001.
and won gold and/or platinum awards in 25 countries. In the United States MCMXC a.D.went platinum by the first week in May of 1991 and earned double-platinum status by the fall of 1993.
Cretu told Alan di Perna of Keyboard, “I conceived of the whole album as a single song. The words and sounds are like flashlight beams. They don’t show you everything. You have to look at what’s between the lines.” A mixture of sixth-century Gregorian chants, bewitching French whispers—provided by Cretu’s wife, Sandra—and hypnotic, ethereal music set to intoxicating dance rhythms, MCMXC a.D. is definitely more a cathartic aural journey than a collection of individual songs. The video import of MCMXC a.D.is a gorgeous swirl of images seamlessly interpreting the entire album. Even so, “Sadeness Part I,” a song marked by its inclusion of Gregorian chant, was destined to become the album’s runaway single. “The great misconception of people who have only heard ‘Sadeness’ is that the whole album is filled with chanting. This is a complete piece of work with many different levels and sounds. ‘Sadeness’ is only one piece of the puzzle,” Cretu explained to Billboard’s Flick.
The French lyrics in “Sadeness Part I” are actually a dark homage to the Marquis de Sade, an eighteenth-century erotic novel writer from France from whose name the word sadism comes. In analyzing this element of the debut Enigma album, Vince Aletti of the Village Voice stated, “Cretu isn’t celebrating the notorious Marquis… but his mere presence in this context is a provocation, surely a deliberate and delicious one. Sade reserved his fiercest contempt and some of his most exquisite literary tortures for the pious and the prim, so even if he remains offstage here, the writer is a devilishly successful device. Cretu uses him to introduce questions of virtue and vice, faith and sacrilege, love and lust.”
Cretu related to Keyboard’s di Perna, “I wanted to use things that there are questions about, that are mysterious. You don’t have to go too far to read all kinds of accusations about the Catholic Church—scandals, inquisitions, and wars—and you wonder how you can reconcile this with the idea that the Church is supposed to stand for universal love. But at the same time, I’ve been told that the Marquis de Sade was a very religious man, that he wrote what he wrote as a revenge against certain pious people who were hypocrites. So again, there are questions, mysteries.”
The Marquis was apparently not the only one out for revenge. As Cretu revealed to Michael Azerrad of Rolling Stone, “[MCMXCa.D.] was like revenge against everything I was hearing. I didn’t want to write songs, I wanted to write moods.” When Azerrad drew a comparison to the way pop icons Madonna and Prince explored sexuality, Cretu replied, “What Madonna and Prince did is pure marketing—it’s predicated on causing scandal. It’s not a sexual music that I did. It’s a sensual music. And there’s a big difference.”
Some radio stations in Europe with a large Catholic audience could not see that difference. They banned “Sadeness Part I,” considering it “pure blasphemy.” Dutch national radio network TROS actually received three bomb threats from listeners said to be shocked by what they heard when the record was proclaimed single of the week—prompting Cretu to issue a statement refuting rumors about satanic material in the Gregorian passages and insisting he had no desire to offend “any public religious beliefs.” Himself an atheist, Cretu told Azerrad of Rolling Stone, “The institution of the Church doesn’t really fit with our times. I believe in destiny, which is a much more powerful belief.”
In terms of record sales, Cretu’s beliefs were apparently embraced by many listeners. By January of 1991 “Sade-ness Part I” had reached Number One in seven European countries: Germany (where it eventually became Germany’s biggest-selling single ever), Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, the United Kingdom, and Greece. The record would ultimately attain the Number One position in 15 countries. In the American market, “Sadeness Part I” broke into Billboard’s Hot 100 in February of 1991, and by April the record was in the Top Five after 11 weeks at Number One on the combined European charts. Peaking at Number Two on the U.S. pop charts, “Sadeness Part I” became a certified platinum single.
Although Enigma was perhaps singularly responsible for boosting interest in Gregorian chant music worldwide, there was a price to pay—literally. In August of 1991 Munich-based choir Kapelle Antiqua demanded a written apology in addition to financial compensation when the choir, according to Ellie Weinert in Billboard, “recognized its recordings of Gregorian choral works on Enigma tracks. The group sued for damages, claiming Cretu had infringed upon its ’right of personality’ by distorting the records sampled on the ’Sadeness Part I’ and ’Mea Culpa’ album tracks and singles.” Cretu and Virgin Germany agreed to pay compensation for samples used on MCMXC a.D.and settled out of court with Polydor and BMG/Ariola, which represented the German choir, for an undisclosed sum. In the end Virgin acquired authorization for the retrospective use of the Polydor and BMG/Ariola masters.
In 1993 film producer Robert Evans asked Cretu to write the title song for the motion picture Sliver. The result was “Carly’s Song” and “Carly’s Loneliness,” both of which appeared as “Age of Loneliness” on Enigma’s next album, The CROSS Of Changes. Other Enigma soundtrack credits include songs from MCMXC a.D.used in the films Single White Female and Boxing Helena.
In May of 1991 Cretu told Larry Flick of Billboard, “It is my plan for Enigma to be an outlet for music that boldly strays away from the norm of pop music. I have several ideas for the next album that I think are fascinating. Part of the fun of projects such as these is watching how all of the various elements come together in the studio.” Though it was released in Europe in December of 1993, it was not until February 8, 1994, that Enigma’s second album, The CROSS Of Changes, was released in the United States. Cretu’s belief that “music is part of my soul—and this ultimately decides everything” perhaps best explains the three years it took him to produce his second album.
Reviewing The CROSS Of Changes for Pulse!, Michael Freedberg stated, “Cretu’s Wagnerian symphonies [in the manner of composer Richard Wagner], crisscrossed by sleazy beats and train-like machinations, feel enough like midnight to make you dance across the Seine [River in France] with your headset on.” Evidently others were dancing with him. The CROSS Of Changes went platinum in the United States just seven weeks after its release, and “Return to Innocence” reached gold status one month later, in July of 1994. In Keyboard Cretu summed up perhaps a major reason for Enigma’s success: “Enigma is a vehicle for doing things outside the rules that you normally have to follow when you make a dance record.” He went on to say, “Basically, I will keep on doing Enigma records until I run out of new ideas. Then I’ll move on to something else.”
MCMXC a.D., Virgin/Charisma, 1990.
The CROSS Of Changes, Virgin/Charisma, 1993.
Also contributed songs to soundtrack Sliver, Virgin, 1993, and others.
Billboard, January 26, 1991; February 16, 1991; May 18, 1991; September 14, 1991; February 19, 1994.
Entertainment Weekly, October 14, 1994.
Keyboard, September 1991.
Melody Maker, January 12, 1991.
Pulse!, June 1994.
Rolling Stone, May 2, 1991; May 16, 1991.
Village Voice, April 16, 1991.
Additional information for this profile was obtained from Virgin Records America publicity materials, 1993, and Nizzari Artist Management, 1995.
"Enigma." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 29, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/enigma
"Enigma." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved May 29, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/enigma
█ LARRY GILMAN
Enigma was a ciphering (code communication) system used by the German military from 1926 until the end of World War II, and by several other nations for some years after. Enigma was the first mechanized message-encryption system to see wide use. Enigma produced such thoroughly scrambled messages that for many years its cipher was considered unbreakable both by the German military and its foes. Polish and British mathematicians, however, cracked the Enigma cipher in time to give the Allies access to most German military communications throughout World War II. The German government never knew that the Enigma cipher had been broken and that its military communications were often transparent, giving a significant advantage to the Allies on many occasions. The Japanese military also used a cipher related to Enigma during World War II. The Japanese version of Enigma was cracked by American cryptographers, providing a crucial advantage to the Allies in the Pacific theater. U.S. knowledge of secrete Japanese transmissions was essential, for example, to victory at the crucial battle at Midway, the Japanese navy's first major defeat in several centuries. Many military strategists and historians hold that Allied success in cracking the Enigma and related ciphers helped significantly shorten World War II.
Origin of Enigma. During World War I, cumbersome paper-and-pencil ciphers were still the rule, as they had been for centuries past. (A cipher is any scheme for transforming ordinary written language—plaintext —into a coded, but apparently random string of characters, ciphertext.) After World War I, several inventors turned their attention to the mechanization of ciphering, seeking to increase accuracy, speed, and security. The most successful of these inventors was German engineer Arthur Scherbius, who in 1918, created a cipher machine he named the Enigma. (This is not a translation; the word "enigma" is the same in German and English). Scherbius was unsuccessful in selling Enigma to commercial buyers. It was not until 1923 that Enigma was chosen by the German government as its standard ciphering system, as Germany had only just learned how much damage had been done by the breaking of its ciphers by the Allies in World War I. Between 1925 and 1945, the German military bought over 30,000 Enigma machines, deploying slightly different systems to its European armies, its army in North Africa, its air force, and its navy.
The Enigma cipher. The Enigma cipher is built upon the simplest of all cipher types, the substitution cipher. In a substitution cipher, one letter of the alphabet is substituted directly for another. A substitution cipher for a sixletter alphabet might appear as:
Plaintext: A B C D E F
Ciphertext: F C A B D E
Using this cipher, the plaintext word BAD (for example) would produce the ciphertext word CFB. Such ciphers are easy to implement, but also contain easily broken code, as their ciphertext contains all the regularities of
ordinary language: that is, double letters in plaintext appear as double letters in ciphertext, the ciphertext letter for "e" will appear in the ciphertext just as often as "e" appears in plaintext, and so forth. Such codes are weak because analyzing regularities is one of the primary means by which codebreakers attack codes.
However, by adding complications to this simple idea, a powerful code can be devised. Consider the following substitution cipher for a three-letter alphabet:
Plaintext: A B C
Ciphertext: A C B
In this simple example, A is enciphered as itself. This cipher can be imagined as a physical device consisting of three disks or dials arranged in a row. The first (left-hand) and third (right-hand) disks, each of which has the alphabet ABC spaced evenly around its edge, are identical, and are aligned so that their letters are in the same positions; the third disk, which sandwiched between the other two, is different. It contains three wires that pass from its left side right through to its right, connecting the two alphabet disks so that the A of the left-hand disk is wired to the A of the right-hand disk, the B of the left-hand disk to the C of the right-hand disk, and the C of the left-hand disk to the B of the right-hand disk. In effect, the middle disk scrambles the alphabet. The result is a simple substitution cipher. If the middle disk, (the scrambler) is rotated, however, so that the wire which touched A on the plaintext disk now touches C on that disk, all the other letters on the plaintext and ciphertext disks will also be connected differently by the scrambler, producing the following substitution cipher:
Plaintext: A B C
Ciphertext: B A C
This can be verified by describing the wires in the scrambler as a set of input-output rules, one for each wire:
- Connect input position 1 to output position 1.
- Connect input position 2 to output position 3.
- Connect input position 3 to output position 2.
By rule 1, when scrambler input position 1 is lined up with the letter A on the left-hand (plaintext) disk, it is connected to output position 1, which is lined up with the letter A on the right-hand (ciphertext) disk. The other two substitutions are produced by the other two wires: B → C, C → B. When the scrambler is rotated so that its input 1 moves from A to C on the plaintext disk, its output 1 moves from A to C on the ciphertext disk. Now, instead of producing A → A, wire 1 produces C → C. The other two wires now produce the substitutions A → B, B → A. Thus, each time the scrambler is rotated by one letter position, a new different substitution code is produced. This continues until the scrambler returns to its starting position, whereupon the substitution codes produced by the device begin to repeat. In this example, repetition begins with the third shift of the scrambler.
Rotation of the scrambler can be used to make a cipher that is more formidable than a straightforward substitution. Consider a three-letter plaintext message is to be sent: ABA. First, A is enciphered with the scrambler in the first position described above: A → A. Before the second letter is encrypted, the scrambler disk is rotated by one letter-position. The second plaintext letter is then enciphered: B → A. The disk is rotated, and A is enciphered again: A → C. Although in this case one would start repeating substitutions after only three letters, the resulting cipher is significantly more complex, and thus harder to crack, than a static substitution cipher.
Decryption in this system is simple as long as the receiving party possesses an identical machine; the wires in the scrambler disk work equally well in either direction, so decryption is simply encryption run backwards. The receiver must, however, begin decrypting with their scrambler set to the same position as the sender's at the start of transmission, otherwise the substitution codes used by the receiver to decipher the message will be out of step with those used by the sender to encipher it, and decipherment will fail.
The Enigma system was based upon the scramblerdisk principle described above. Enigma used not a 3-letter, but a 26-character alphabet and not one, but four scrambler disks. The first scrambler scrambled plaintext or ciphertext, the second scrambler scrambled the outputs of the first scrambler, the third scrambled the outputs of the second, and the fourth fed back, or "reflected," the outputs of the third so that messages passed through the other three scramblers before the encrypted ciphertext (or decrypted plaintext) was read. Each letter was thus scrambled a total of seven times during its passage through the machine. Three of the scrambler disks could be rotated freely, but the fourth, the "reflector," was stationary.
In order to use an Enigma unit, its operator typed plaintext or ciphertext into a keyboard. For each keystroke typed, Enigma automatically shifted one or more of its scramblers and lit up a letter on a display board. The letter on the display board showed the output text for the typed input letter: ciphertext if plaintext was input, plaintext if ciphertext was input. To produce further scrambling between ciphertext and plaintext, each Enigma also had a built-in commutator or "plugboard" that enabled the operator to crisscross paired letters of the alphabet before their signals fed into the first scrambler disk. The result was that Enigma had over 1020 different "keys" or distinct settings of scramblers and plugboard. Simply guessing the correct key for a given message was, therefore, essentially impossible. Every day at midnight, all operators of a given Enigma system would switch to a new key; these initial daily keys were printed in a codebook that was distributed to the operators. For added security, the scrambler-disks part of the key was changed for every single message sent; this message-key information was transmitted twice at the beginning of every message. This technique was intended to prevent message loss due to transmission errors, but in fact reduced Enigma's effectiveness by introducing an element of predictability.
The defeat of Enigma. Enigma was long considered impossible to crack. However, in 1931, a disgruntled German exofficer gave drawings for the machine to the French secret service. The French, who considered Enigma too tough to crack even with this information in their possession, gave it to the Polish government. Polish mathematician Marian Rejewski (1905–1980) used it to devise automatic devices (specialized electromechanical calculators) for re-cracking the ever-changing Enigma cipher on a daily basis. Just before the fall of Poland in 1939, Rejewski's findings were transferred to the British government, which continued to improve them.
During World War II, the German military modified the Enigma system at intervals, requiring the British to continue re-cracking the cipher throughout the war. With the help of a motley team of crossword-puzzle experts, bridge devotees, chess champions, mathematicians, and linguists led by British mathematician and computing pioneer Alan Turing (1912–1954), the group succeeded. Tragically, however, Turing was persecuted after the war for his homosexuality. His security clearance was revoked, he was forced to undergo debilitating hormone treatments, and he was banned from the development of the digital computer. Turing committed suicide in 1954, some 20 years before his crucial contribution to the cracking of Enigma, and thus, to the Allied victory, was declassified.
█ FURTHER READING:
Churchouse, Robert. Codes and Ciphers. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Singh, Simon. The Code Book. New York: Doubleday, 1999.
Codes and Ciphers
"Enigma." Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 29, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/politics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/enigma
"Enigma." Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. . Retrieved May 29, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/politics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/enigma
Enigma was the name of the German encoding machines used for vital strategic messages in the Second World War; with the assistance of a machine smuggled out of Germany, British cryptographers working at Bletchley Park on the project codenamed Ultra broke the German codes. The story of Enigma remained an official secret until the ban on publication was lifted in 1974. See also Colossus.
"enigma." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 29, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/enigma
"enigma." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved May 29, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/enigma
So enigmatic XVII. — F. énigmatique or late L. ænigmaticus. enigmatical XVI.
"enigma." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 29, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/enigma-2
"enigma." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved May 29, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/enigma-2
e·nig·ma / iˈnigmə/ • n. (pl. -mas or -ma·ta / -mətə/ ) a person or thing that is mysterious, puzzling, or difficult to understand. ∎ a riddle or paradox.
"enigma." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 29, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/enigma-1
"enigma." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved May 29, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/enigma-1
With Greek roots, the word “enigma” means mysterious or ambiguous. Staying in line with its name, few people knew the creative force behind Enigma when its debut MCMXC A.D. was released. As the album rocketed to the top of the charts worldwide, Michael Cretu’s name surfaced as the maestro behind the mystery. Combining the seemingly conflicting musical styles of Gregorian chants, hip hop beats, French-spoken words, and keyboard sounds influenced by Art of Noise and Vangelis, Cretu produced a sound that set the stage for an entirely new genre of music.
“It’s my plan for Enigma to be an outlet for music that boldly strays away from the norm of pop music,” Cretu said in Enigma’s Virgin Records Germany bio. The musical fusion that became Enigma’s trademark sound was a challenge to define and describe, even for the record company. “No words can explain music,” said Cretu. “Music explains itself.” Holding fast to this philosophy, Cretu took great pains to avoid tying the music of Enigma to any one artist or even one language.
Although Enigma’s debut received critical acclaim, reviewers had the challenge of trying to explain the sound to readers. One writer wrote in the New York Times, “Mood music, dance music, trip music, whatever you want to call it… Enigma is an international phenomenon.”
During a time when many industries, including the recording industry, thought packaging was as important or more important than content, Cretu wanted to create an anomaly. “I said let the music speak for itself, and I’m not important at all,” Cretu said in his record company press materials. He wanted to offer music without a personality or package behind it, and to let the project be the star. His goal was to remain in obscurity as the father of the Enigma project.
“With Enigma, I have created a complete piece of music that I wanted to let stand alone,” Cretu told Larry Flick in Billboard. ”There is a sense of mystery in the music that I want to leave untouched by the perceptions and preconceived ideas that come with the past history of a producer or songwriter.”
Michael Cretu’s own history began with his birth in Bucharest, Romania. His mother was Austrian and his father Romanian, and he began studying music as a child. He started learning to play the piano at the age of five. By the second grade, he was enrolled in music school, which he continued through college. In 1975, Cretu moved to Frankfurt, Germany, where he studied at the Musikhochschule Academy (College of Music). He graduated with honors in 1979, specializing in composition and conducting.
However, he decided not to continue in the field of classical music, and instead, pursued a career as a songwriter and producer for pop music. His work included the European projects Moti Special and Cretu and Theirs. In 1983, he released his first solo album, Legionärè(Legionnaires), followed by Die Chinesische Mauer (Invisible Man) in 1985. Both were released in Europe on Virgin Records.
While still living in Germany in the mid-1980s, Cretu began working with an unknown singer named Sandra Lauer. She recorded simply as Sandra. Cretu wrote, arranged, and produced Sandra’s first album, Maria Magdalena, which became a number-one hit in 15 countries. Cretu continued to produce hit albums with Sandra, and eventually, produced a marriage, as well.
By 1987, Cretu had established himself as a successful producer. He was working with French pop singer Sylvie Vatan, when he met Mike Oldfield, who asked Cretu to work with him on his upcoming album, Islands. While working with Cretu, Oldfield strongly encouraged him to take a break from producing and work on his own material. It was then that the seeds for Cretu’s Enigma project were planted. In 1989, Cretu had made the decision to start work on the project, and built his own studio on the Balerian island of Ibiza.
As with almost every Enigma release, Cretu locked himself in the studio with limited human interaction to
For the Record…
Members include Michael Cretu (born on May 18, 1957, in Bucharest, Romania); married Sandra Lauer; two children. Education: Graduated from Musikhochschule Academy (College of Music), Germany, 1979.
Formed in 1989; released MCMXC A.D., 1990; contributed to Sliver film soundtrack, 1993; released The Cross of Changes, 1994; released Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi!, 1996; released The Screen Behind the Mirror, 2000.
Addresses: Record company —Virgin Records America, 338 N. Foothill Rd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Website —Enigma: The Official website: http://www.enigma-4.com.
record his music. “To be separated from the world is very important,” Cretu told David Knight in Dotmusic. “I have to spend months in one atmosphere in order to dive into the back of my mind.”
Enigma’s debut album, MCMXC A.D., including the first single, “Sadeness Part 1” was released in 1990. The album struck a chord with music fans all over the world. It reached number one in 41 countries, and earned 57 platinum awards. In the United States, it reached triple platinum and stayed on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart for five years.
In keeping with the mystery of Enigma, Cretu asked his record company to send the album to radio stations without any packaging to see if the music would sell itself. To almost everyone’s amazement, it worked. “The reason for calling the project Enigma into life is the desire to make music that I have long heard in my head,” Cretu said in his Virgin Records Italy bio. “Till now, I’ve had neither the time nor the opportunity to make my plans reality. Enigma has given me the possibility to experiment in the studio without paying any regard to musical conventions whatsoever.”
Cretu wrote the single “Sadeness Part 1” about Marquis de Sade. Part of the song refers to his name, “Sade,” while another part relates to the “sadness” in his life, having spent 50 years of his life in prison. Cretu’s wife Sandra provides the female vocals on the track. When the single was released, the record company gave no reference to any artists behind it, and did not explain the content as being related to Marquis de Sade. Cretu wanted people to react to the song without having any preconceived notions. “I had no ulterior motive,” Cretu told Catharina Jacobsen in Verdens Gang. “The music has neither verse nor chorus, and if I ask you to sing a melody line, you won’t be able to do it, because it’s all based on a mood and an atmosphere.” The track was followed up with a second single titled “Mea Culpa.”
In 1992, Robert Evans, producer of the film Sliver, asked Cretu to write the score for the movie. Cretu weighed the option of living and working in Los Angeles to work on the film or to work on the next Enigma release. He opted for the latter. However, he did contribute two tracks to the 1993 Sliver soundtrack— “Carly’s Song” and “Carly’s Loneliness.”
The Cross of Changes, Enigma’s second album, was released in 1994. It included the single “Return to Innocence,” which featured German singer Andreas Harde, who was known by his stage name Angel. The Cross of Changes reached double platinum sales in the United States, and received 21 platinum and 24 gold awards worldwide. With this album, Cretu took a more metaphysical approach to the music. “The lyrics are like a mirror of my soul, and probably it helped me a lot to live in a very quiet place, where I could start to concentrate and to start listening to my inner voice,” Cretu said in his record company’s press materials.
The year following the release of The Cross of Changes, Cretu started to work on a third album, but the recording process was interrupted by his wife’s pregnancy. “When I’m working in the studio, I’m an absolute night owl,” Cretu said to Mike Alexander in Sunday Star. “And when I am working on my music, there can only be my music, but because of Sandra’s pregnancy, that wasn’t possible.” In 1995, Cretu and his wife became the proud parents of twin sons, and Cretu returned to the studio.
Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi! (translated “The king is dead, long live the king!”) was released in 1996, along with the single “Beyond the Invisible.” Cretu explored existentialism with this album, and musically, described it as the offspring of the first two albums. “Since the first two albums were of a rather experimental character, I now intended to produce a more ’middle of the road’ one, which wouldn’t ask the listener to look for a meaning and think about it a whole lot,” Cretu said in Virgin Records press materials.
In preparation for Enigma’s fourth release, Michael Cretu accomplished a rare feat. He was able to get the rights to sample the music of Carl Orff’s opera Carmina Burana. Centering around a theme of mysticism, The Screen Behind the Mirror was released in 2000, and included the single “Gravity of Love.”
Although Cretu would describe his conceptual ideas behind Enigma’s music, he refused to explain the meaning behind particular songs or lyrics. He maintained the definition of Enigma as a mystery by replying that the project is “called Enigma, not instruction manual.” As he explained to Michael Azerrad in Rolling Stone, “I didn’t want to write songs, I wanted to write moods.”
During more than 10 years working on the Enigma project, Michael Cretu achieved the very rare ability to not only reach across world borders, but across generations, as well. “Enigma is liked by everyone from kids buying Smashing Pumpkins to 70-year-old fathers buying The Three Tenors,” a reviewer wrote in Billboard. Where Cretu will take his work with Enigma next continues to be a mystery, just as he always intended.
MCMXC A.D. (includes “Sadeness Part 1,” “Mea Culpa”), Virgin, 1990.
(Contributor) Sliver (soundtrack), Virgin, 1993.
The Cross of Changes, Virgin, 1994.
Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi!, Virgin, 1996.
The Screen Behind the Mirror, Virgin, 2000.
Billboard, May 18, 1991; September 14, 1991; January 15, 2000.
Dotmusic, October 21, 1996.
Entertainment Weekly, February 18, 1994; December 13, 1996.
Music Mag, January 1994.
New York Times, February 6, 1991; April 17, 1994.
Rolling Stone, May 2, 1991; April 21, 1994.
Sunday Herald Sun, December 22, 1996.
Sunday Star, January 5, 1997.
Verdens Gang, December 19, 1990.
The Enigma Archives, http://www.enigma-archives.org.uk (January 15, 2001).
Enigma: The Official Website, http://www.enigma-4.com (January 15, 2001).
Additional information was provided by Virgin Records press materials, 1991-2000.
"Enigma." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 29, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/enigma-0
"Enigma." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved May 29, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/enigma-0
"enigma." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 29, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/enigma-0
"enigma." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved May 29, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/enigma-0