Michael's Mystical Music

Verdens Gang December 19 1990

Gregorian church chant mixed with synthetic discopop and women's voices groaning "philosophical" questions about the sado-masochism of Marquis de Sade is the latest big sales success in many parts of Europe.

The project bears the title Enigma - mystic - and the progenitor is the German record producer Michael Cretu, who among other things was behind Sandra and the chart success Maria Magdalena.

Back to Mysticism

"My starting-point was very simple: I wanted to make music that I like myself, I wanted to return to the mysticism," Michael Cretu explains. The first single from the album, Sadeness Part 1 is currently at number one in Germany, Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Greece. It is number six in England and enters at the bottom of the VG list today. Michael Cretu has undoubtedly made it with his hotchpotch and the well-known conflict between church and sexuality.

Musical Mess?

In many ears it sounds peculiar, whilst others will see it as a musical mess, produced by a man with extremely bad taste. Michael Cretu denies stubbornly that there's something speculative in Enigma. He points out that his goal was to break all common promotional rules this time. The single was released without any reference to the person behind it or any artists, and without any explanations as to the content and the ties to Marquis de Sade. He just wanted to let people react spontaneously to the music itself.

Record Sales Rush

The result of the radio playing was a rush at the record stores. The song went from number 92 to number 1 in three weeks, and has to date sold nearly 650,000 copies just in Germany. "I had no ulterior motive," stresses Cretu again and again. "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," he points out. It is his wife, the artist Sandra, who performs the groans and moans, directed to Marquis de Sade. Originally it was planned that a French woman would do the vocals on the final recording, but the powerful boss for the record company Virgin, the media magnate Richard Branson, was so enthusiastic about Sandra's contribution that he insisted that her groans was kept as they were. According to Michael Cretu the gregorian church chant is recorded in Rumania, and he answers frenetically affirmative when we wonder if the singing monks have received their share of all the D-marks he gets. Hadn't it been for the fact that he likes himself best in the studio, it would be an easy task to make a staging of Enigma. Now we must be content with dressed-up "monks" selling Enigma cassettes in the Christmas streets of Oslo.

Translated by Joar Grimstvedt.
Reproduced without permission from Verdens Gang (Oslo, Norway) for private and research purposes only.