Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi! (Review 4)

[Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi! Cover]

by Edna Gundersen
Microsoft Music Review 1996

Expect the usual enigmatics from Enigma's third tour of inner space: shimmering synthesizers, breathy female vocals, low boil beats, and brooding mysticism.

Enigma is the mystery-shrouded brainchild of Bucherest native Michael Cretu, better known as Curly M.C. a cloistered studio rat smitten with the electronic soundscapes of Pink Floyd, Deep Forest, and that Cool Manual no-no, Yes.

The Gregorian chants and pan flutes of Enigma's first album MCMXCaD., blend with the Indonesian flavours of 1994's The Cross Of Changes on Le Roi Est Mort VIVE Le Roi! ("the king is dead, long live the king"). It's a pleasant rehash with only one notable distinction, Cretu's own vocals. His capable and emotive singing is a mixed blessing. In it's restrianed form, Cretu's voice adds another silky layer to the luxurious textures. When he bullies to the forefront the spell shatters. On Beyond The Invisible he sounds like Phil Collins straining for metaphysical euphoria.

"Things are changing but nothing changes" is the mantra permeating Le Roi, an ambling philosophical meditation that pivots on the question "Why?" While not exactly a novel mission, the quest for answers can be a worthy aim, except when the search gets under way. Cretu gets so hung up ruminating on the crisis of the unknown that he forgets to open his eyes and get a clue. By the end of Le Roi, even the most pensive sage would holler "Oh, why NOT already!"

Not that it matters. In the language of Enigma, words are merely another instrument to caress the sensibilities. The voices of Zulu's and Latavians mix with gentle flutes and strings and other worldly sound effects to create swirling, exotic collage. Cretu ditched crisp disco beats for muted drums that readily blend with the moody sonics.

When Le Roi hits it's stride, the result is etheral and wonderous, as in the feathery Morphing Thru Time, T.N.T. For The Brain and Odeyssey Of The Mind, a hunting piece that recalls the creepiness of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells. But Enigma desends into a new age noodling, it has all the spiritual sustenance of K-Tels ode to the oboe.

Reproduced without permission for private and research purposes only.

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