Section 1: The Band/Project

What is ENIGMA?

At the end of 1990 Michael Cretu stated "Old rules and habits have to be rejected and dismissed so that something new can be created," and so the project ENIGMA, meaning mystery in Greek, came to be. The starting point for ENIGMA was simple: Cretu wanted to make music that he liked himself and that returned to the mysticism. He wanted nothing speculative in ENIGMA and his goal was to break all common promotional rules. Enigma is, in all respects, nothing more than a project. This section is not titled "Who are ENIGMA?" because Enigma is not a band - it is a project undertaken by one person: Michael Cretu (better known as Curly M.C.).

In the beginning there was no promotion of ENIGMA for the first single, Sadeness part 1 (Sadness part 1 in the UK and Australia). Even on the single itself there are no references to real names in the credits except for David Fairstein. This is because Michael Cretu's ENIGMA project was supposed to be a mystery where no-one knew the artists, just the music. As Michael Cretu explained in an interview on December 19 1990, he only wanted people to react spontaneously to the music.

The mystery behind ENIGMA prompted rumours of exactly who the artists were on this debut single. Eager journalists mentioned artists such as Mike Oldfield and Alan Parsons, but it wasn't until a lawsuit was filed for supposed plagiarism (of stealing the idea of mixing Gregorian chant with hip-hop grooves) that the true artists of Michael Cretu and Sandra were revealed. While the fact that the mystery was now non-existent probably disappointed Michael Cretu, he cleared his name by winning the case, and also helped launch the debut album MCMXC a.D. (Confirmation of Cretu's initial desire to keep the artists a mystery is further proven by the credits on the album and in a February 16, 1991 Billboard article where it is stated that in the press releases for the album that it was preferred for the producer to remain anonymous despite his name being known in Europe).

The release of the second and subsequent albums has removed mysteries in regards to the names of artists used and, to a lesser extent, what samples have been used. What does remain a mystery, however, is the meanings behind many of the songs and their accompanying music videos. It is something that Michael Cretu or his staff will not disclose information about. It is known that The Cross of Changes reflects a lot about Cretu's inner wishes & thoughts, and about his inner life. It was based on numerology and, to a lesser extent, psychology. In the Electronic Press Kit (EPK) for the album he also states that the overall theme is perhaps the return to innocence - that every human being is innocent with no bad attitudes when first born. Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi! is supposed to be a mixture of the first two albums. From a Music Week article in October 1996 he states that it is about how things change yet still stay the same; it is a reflection of our daily lives and why we do what we do.

For all four Enigma albums Michael Cretu is believed to have used vocals from his wife Sandra (not acknowledged on MCMXC a.D.; acknowledged as Sandra on The CROSS of Changes; and acknowledged as Sandra Cretu on Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi!). All four albums have also involved David Fairstein who wrote or helped co-write some songs. Both Louisa Stanley and Peter Cornelius helped with the second and third albums (with female vocals and guitars respectively) and may have also helped on the first. Andy Hard (acknowledged as Angel in the credits) worked on the second album and is believed to have also helped on the first. Jens Gad only worked on the second and fourth albums, while Frank Peterson (acknowledged as F. Gregorian in the credits) only worked on the first album.

Note

While ENIGMA is actually a project of Michael Cretu's, it is commonly referred to as a band. For this reason, the rest of this FAQ will refer to ENIGMA as a band and not a project.

Does ENIGMA plagiarise?

Legally, the answer is 'yes'. As reported in the September 14 1991 Billboard article 'Sadeness' Creator Settles Sample Suit, Polydor German lawyer Stefan Belfert revealed that Michael Cretu and Virgin Germany settled out of court with Polydor and BMG/Ariola over "unauthorised use of choral recordings on the ENIGMA album MCMXC a.D.".

The whole dispute arose from when Munich-based choir Kapelle Antiqua recognised its recordings of Gregorian choral works on ENIGMA tracks. The group sued claiming that Cretu had infringed upon its 'right of personality' by distorting the records samples on the Sadeness part 1 and Mea Culpa part II album tracks and singles. The group was supposedly 'personally offended' by the 'misuse' of its work and demanded a written apology in addition to financial compensation. Kapelle Antiqua was able to demonstrate that parts of its works were samples on Mea Culpa.

Virgin Germany went on to acquire authorisation for the retrospective use of the Polydor and BMG/Ariola masters and officially apologised to the original artists. Interesting to note is that no copyright infringement was involved in the case, since the Kapelle Antiqua recordings were in the public domain! The original recording in question appears to be Die Gregorianischen Gezange by (Choralschola der) Capella Antiqua Munchen. It was released by Philips in Germany with a catalog number of 426 838-2 on CD.

In March 1999 Enigma had a lawsuit placed on it by an elderly Taiwanese couple. 79-year-old Kuo Ying-Nan and his 78-year-old wife Kuo Hsin-Chu claimed Cretu sampled Jubilant Drink Song, a track recorded in 1988 by a French cultural organisation in the traditional Ami tongue. They sought "attribution of authorship" and "damages equal to a fair share of the profits that the defendants have achieved from exploitation of the work". A hearing was held in Los Angeles on March 4, 1999, with a possible hearing date of July expected. No update has been heard. 

Some information taken from the September 1991 Billboard article 'Sadeness' Creator Settles Sample Suit, and a March 1999 article from launch.com.

How does ENIGMA 2 differ from ENIGMA 1?

It is interesting to note that the second album is by ENIGMA 2 and not ENIGMA. It is also interesting to note that all the singles released from The CROSS of Changes are listed as being from ENIGMA and not ENIGMA 2. So why the difference in names? Two reasons are:

  1. That it is wanted to be expressed that The CROSS of Changes is a very different album in comparison to MCMXC a.D., notably in the sense that there is not a focus on Gregorian chants, panflutes, and all the other trademark instruments that appear on MCMXC a.D., but instead, a progression into different instruments and different origins such as the lapp chant. As Cretu said in a Billboard article from May 18 1991, he would retain the ENIGMA name, but would take the music down a completely different path.
  2. That the line up of musicians has changed considerably on The CROSS of Changes, notably with the absence of F. Gregorian (an alias used on the first album for Frank Peterson). David Fairstein also has a much lower-key role on The CROSS of Changes than he does on MCMXC a.D., only assisting on two songs as against the four for MCMXC a.D.. Finally, Curly M.C. from MCMXC a.D. has also revealed himself as 'Curly' Michael Cretu, although he retains his alias for the singles from The CROSS of Changes.

Clearly it is seen that The CROSS of Changes is by ENIGMA 2 because of the great changes over time - in terms of musical style and/or the musicians used on the album.

How does ENIGMA 3 differ from ENIGMA 1 and ENIGMA 2?

The third Enigma album follows on from the naming convention used in The CROSS of Changes by stating that it is from ENIGMA3. Once again it features David Fairstein, who helps with three songs - one more than on Enigma 2, but one less than on Enigma 1. The same female vocalists from Enigma 2, Sandra and Louisa Stanley, are present, as is Peter Cornelius. Missing, however, is Jens Gad and Andy Hard (Angel). The artist line-up is a reflection of the fact that ENIGMA3 is unashamedly a combination of the first two albums. When releasing the album Cretu stated that has created a "middle of the road" album where the listener does not have to look for a meaning. In an October Music Week article he also stated: "The intention was to mix the elements of the first two and to give them a role". He has made the first two albums the 'parents' of his third album, with more of a focus and songs and less on atmospheres. To do this he has changed his drum grooves and made 9 of the 12 tracks have vocals. He has also made the drums softer and more muffled, with less hi-hats.

Is ENIGMA 4 called Metamorphosis?

No! This is a bootleg that appeared in Eastern Europe in 1999. It looks like a legitimate release from the record company (Virgin) but is really a bootleg. Part of why this release fools people is because it contains music that is very Enigma-like in sound. The tracks are by obscure artists. Other Enigma rip-offs have been spotted with titles as high as Enigma 6!

Will there ever be an ENIGMA 5?

Yes. According to the October 23, 1996 edition of America's Billboard magazine Michael Cretu signed a contract last year for a further 5 albums after the release of Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi!. One album is expected every three years, meaning that we will be hearing the music of ENIGMA until at least 2010. Based on current trends Enigma 5 can be expected around December 2002.

After the release of Enigma 3 Michael gave a clue about future albums' sounds. In an article to New Zealand's Sunday Star he stated that "Enigma is, to me, a free field without stylistic borders. In future projects, I will probably concentrate more on the problems of the Third World. The basic principle will remain to avoid tying the music either to a language or artist".

Will ENIGMA ever tour?

Despite the success of studio albums and singles ENIGMA has yet to tour and has no immediate plans to do so. In the past Michael numerously stated that him touring was science fiction and would not happen. However in a letter to me from March 1995 he made it known that he was considering doing a one-only concert in a spectacular place in late 1996 or 1997. He had some locations in mind but didn't expand on this. The concert never occurred. In a syndicated interview in December 1999 he once again mentioned a one-off concert that he is considering for the end of Enigma's career, giving odds of 10-15%. Before starting on The Screen Behind the Mirror he also considering doing a concert. However since it would take 2 years to do a concert he abandoned the idea in favour of working on the new studio album instead.

Why doesn't ENIGMA give many interviews?

In a letter from March 1995, Michael answered this question by saying that he has no time to give interviews throughout the year due to his music commitments. Apart from 7 to 10 days he spends with the international media for the release of an album, he spends the rest of his time working on his own or other artists' music in either a writing or producing role. As Michael stated, "If I start to answer all of them [questions], I would never have any minute for the studio". For the release of Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi! he gave one very few interviews. Once of these was for the public, held on the Internet on December 13, 1996. It unfortunately didn't reveal much (a transcript of the chat is available). For the release of The Screen Behind the Mirror a lengthy and informative world-wide syndicated interview was made available to the press (a transcript is available).

Is ENIGMA on the Internet?

It is known that Michael Cretu had Internet access in the month leading up to his "online chat" on December 13, 1996. It is not known exactly what he did or where he visited during that time, nor is it known whether he still has Internet access. Given that he lives on a remote island, does not give interviews, and generally prefers to be secluded from the public therefore letting the music speak for itself, it is highly unlikely that Michael wishes to be on the Internet. Michael's manager is known to have had Internet access since December 1999 when the company name changed from Mambo Musik to Crocodile Management.


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