The Screen Behind the Mirror Review (Martyn Woolley)
by Martyn Woolley December 16 1999
After 3 long years of anticipation and rumours of the style and direction the "New Enigma" would follow....the album finally passed through my hands. As every Enigma album before, this one offers as much excitement ....all my words expressed where written as I heard the album on the second play, and reflect my feelings and emotions as a true Enigma fan.
"Thanks to the few who made this possible..you know who you are!!!"
The Gate 2:01
Swirling intro....Elisabeth Houghton repeats the galaxy information...the familiar intro that has been with us since E1 comes ambling in....and out again...the vocal information keeps telling us about the earth's rotation.....some nice bells tumble down...swirling space sounds...could we be in a space station?? ...just as the sound fades at 1:26 in comes the first Carmina sample looping and fading inwards....at 1:36 the vocal is full blast loud, very loud...the sample is the full length and not looped until 1:57 when the ladies voice tells us more about the universe!! ....drums start and go right into.....
Push the Limits 6:25
This starts very differently than most Enigma tracks but ends up being a classic piece of music...Oh how I wish every Enigma track is 6:25 long and has all of these elements!!
The intro to this song carries over the same words about space being presented....and it has different synth sound than you would not normally assign to Enigma. Drums beat from side to side with a deep bass sound....the voice....and then lead into a snare....at 0:30 sec into the track the main melody kicks in....again a different synth sound is used....great drums are all around..and loud!!!
At 1:18 the melody and strange synth stop......it goes into a very nice ethnic chant...repeated with the now familiar Enigma sound of the past...a really nice high pitched female vocal melody plays in the background....Now 2 chants at the same time!!!
At 1:57 in comes the third chant....similar to the one in Light of Your Smile!!! at 2:03 the voice says (Basic Instincts are side by side)....so 4 elements are playing all together for a few brief moments....CHRIST this is brilliant .....At 2:20 the drums drop and in comes the TNT (for the Brain) tabular drums.....and the English ladies voice repeats the "words of wisdom"....then at 2:40..another captivating/chilling/eerie Mongolian sample...this haunting sound will stay with you and you never forget the chilling sound of this Mongolian chant...awesome!!!!
The drums are still low while this chant goes on and on....this is the real Enigma....until 3:34 when the beat goes up and more strange instruments never heard on Enigma before.....the voice comes back again at 3:54.....it is haunting/scary!!.....this plays to the first drums and increases in intensity until 4:33...where the drums cascade into the first synth sound and melody again...this plays until 5:10 when the drums drop again ..and the moans of Sandra together with a sample used in Mea Culpa...drums build up again....and in come the voices chants again.....drums are really nice..and strong!!
The Mea Culpa sample plays over.....and the melody comes back in the final seconds....classic Enigma!!! This is the same feel you get from Eyes of Truth and Morphing Thru Time....great opening track...hallmark of Enigma albums.....
Gravity of Love 4:01
Same version as the single.....nothing more to say about this track....
Smell of Desire 4:56
Droplets of beats...ambient feel...low synth Enigma feel to start...very heavy bass drum drops in at 0:16.....clicking drum noise...could it be native tribe banging wood ..or just a new Enigma drum beat...melody of synth come in around 0:25 low and un-assuming....in comes the pan flute...low and winding....at 0:47 and the main drum beats comes in...not as loud and the whole track has a low key feel..pan flute plays a beautiful rift.
At 1:25 in comes a quick heavy sigh sample...and into a new higher pitched synth melody....sounds new and just as moody as the pan flute....this wanders it way through silky sounds until a very nice low electric guitar of Jens Gad comes in at 2:01...starts off with a acoustic Spanish feel but quickly goes into a smooth rift...heavy deep breathing surrounds the background...but it is kept back in the mix at just the right level ....oh my...in comes Sandra at 2:23 with the erotic Mea Culpa words.. "Je ne dors plus, Je suis folle, Je m'abandone, Je suis a toi" which she repeats through to 2:42 when the pan flute comes back in with the melody...rally nice atmosphere surrounds ...and in comes another E1 sample from Sadeness trance mix playing backwards at 3:15 all 3 previous Enigma albums come together in this track...how is it possible?..wow!!!
Electric guitar comes back in with the Sadeness track still playing backwards in the background...now in comes Mea Culpa again...this is truly amazing how he blends all elements together....all the way to the end...you will listening in amazement of the construction of this track..the true beauty of production....Sadeness, Mea Culpa, Principles (of Lust), Beyond the Invisible, Shadows in Silence, I'll love I'll Kill You all in one!
The Master of erotic!!! This has to be one of the most standout tracks....fades out with Sandra whispers of the "the eternal flame will always burn - feel - understand - and learn" ...fading Pan flute...goes into a......
Modern Crusaders 3:49
Ambient feel to start the track until the drum kicks in at 0:08...Andru (Donalds) picks up the vocals at 0:18..(first thought are (Michael) Cretu singing...but NO it is Andru...Cretu's voice can't get down low to some of the notes..listen carefully) singing through then oraliser to make his voice slightly distorted..very upbeat song..singing about Modern Crusaders..sound like early Cretu solo singing but with a heavy drum beats..not to much happening in the background...the old Enigma synth feel..until his voice breaks at 1:32...and wow..in comes the main chant you will all know from "Carmina Burana - O Fortuna"..mixed here with the heavy drums..pounding...chants stops at 1:58 in come heavy Gad guitar...sounds as hurried as the guitar from E2.....breaks at 2:32...drums break and lower feel...in comes the main sample from "Carmina Burana" again..low chorus which builds up to the main part which come in loud at 2:55....drums come in heavy again...and Andru goes back into the chorus at 3:18 Gad comes back with the rift....Andru finishes the vocals and in comes the same organ used at the start of Rivers (of elief) to finish the song...hurried and a very up beat song after the last track..it is over as quick as it starts. The production of the sample works and he captures the emotion of the Carl Orf theme...More ambient feel and intro.....into .....
Traces (Light and Weight) 4:10
Heavy droplets of water....are the start of this track....drum beat is different again...but heavy...strange sound that accompanies the drum..almost sounds like a snare...but it is a match being scraped and lit...in comes a chant Mongolian sample at 0:40..swirling around in the background...sound like a instrument church bells ring at 1:02...they chime to the melody to another new synth sound form Cretu...at 1:35...the sound breaks apart form the water droplets...atmosphere surrounds...a very faint Latin sample is heard which fades quickly and is slightly muffled...more Delerium sampled sound...very low....weird sounds surround this section....again sounds like spring noise...could it be dolphins noise...at 2:14 the heavy drums start again...melody still floating in the background in comes the sampled voice again at 2:27.....not high in the mix...but enough to make the song chilling...church bells accompany the melody briefly again..weird sound going on and on... the sampled voice becomes louder and more the front of the mix...and then fades as then song does.....more ambient feel as the drum stops and the tracks fades out...reverse voice and choir are heard at the end...this starts the next song....
The Screen Behind the Mirror 3:57
This starts with another nice heavy drum intro...going to heavy bass beats at 0:10 leading into some nice Sandra heavy breathing and atmosphere...at 0:31 a very nice chant that has been distorted in the same fashion as Peter Frampton did...this then goes into a more audible chant...African...he turns this into a melody until 0:51 sec when Sandra starts some very faint singing with the chants very active in the background...harmonica samples...voice samples too ...this then breaks into the synth melody at 1:12 which is a high pitch......and again a different type of Enigma melody at 1:33 more Andru singing the vocals of Gravity (of Love)...then in Ruth joins him at 1:52...with the a very nice catchy "da da der" chant..The vocals are deliberately distorted to set the mood of dreaming..and confusion in your mind..the heavy drum stays al the way through this..great track....the old Sadeness stutter drum loop thrown in a few time s to diffuse the master beat.....at 2:15 Andru sings more lines for the Gravity (of Love) lyrics....until 2:34 where the high pitched melody comes back in very strong...this then winds it way to the end of track with a lot of atmosphere and Ruth vocals in the background..."da da der" vocal chant to the end...
Endless Quest 3:05
VERY STRONG DRUM beat.....great angelic noises...and choir like synth melody....here is the old Enigma...pan flute... ..at :30.......very nice floating sound...and melody.....man this drum beat is awesome and strong....pan flute winds it way with great effect..Beyond (the Invisible) and Sadeness all in one.............now at 1:20 and it is still going...WOW....angelic voices at 1:30 .......drum breaks at at 1:40....with a crescendo of cymbals...then a weaker drum breaks in the background...nice high sound synth again at 1:48....this now plays where the pan....flutes left off...pan flutes still laying in the background at the same time..2:17 the drums came back in strong with the electric guitar of JENS GAD,.....VERY STRONG and I'll Love (You) Ill Kill You strength..this breaks down at 2:49...and winds down...and ends with some very heavy Sandra breathing man this could have gone on for another 2-3 minutes.... suddenly it ends and in comes.....
Camera Obscura 1:27
Wild vocals break and hard hard drum.....vocals are very distorted...and it is hard to make out who is singing...sounds like Andru...but the words sound backwards...could it even be a chant...at 0:33 in comes a strong and bold Carmina chorus..this is the sample you all know...but the drums are very dance beat and strong!...this goes on and ends when the tracks breaks down into to sublime ambient beats...WOW talk about up high and then comes down into a mellow ending....very emotional track..and quick...this floats into....
Between Mind and Heart 4:08
Oh...very nice synth and mellow drum...and ambient beats....slow melody..with another organ sounding synth...Santoor instrument maybe....almost 2 sounds of melody...very calm...at 0:55 in comes some nice light sample of chants...vocal sound angelic and in Latin....heavy breathing as well. at 1:15 in comes a very nice harpsichord piano....with Michael vocals..hard to hear what he is singing....but it is calm....at 1:40 in comes a African chant sample...this is repeated and echoing..again you want forget this sample...haunting!!
This then floats with more heavy breathing and distant women....and more sample of chants harp plays in the back ground in comes Sandra who sings "this is the engine of your body" at 2:21..and then she says "that brings the engine of life"...louder choir and the main sample come in loud and floating Sandra voices..and this runs to the end of a beautiful track full of emotion and feeling..the track ends with all of the African samples looping all together and swirling around the room...Sandra ends the track with a whisper.
Silence Must be Heard 5:18
Oh my.....so much has been heard up to now..it seems so quick but fulfilling...all the emotions that Enigma bring.....come to a end with this beautiful sounding start....some really nice low synth like a organ...like TNT (for the Brain) intro...really nice effects that appear like a knocking noise..until this really nice melody synth starts at 0:30....really nice drum into combines with this super swirling melody...Ruth Ann starts to sing at 0:50....her voice has emotion and sounds like Sandra.....low and highs voice....now it starts to get higher and more emotion....at 1:27 it breaks and has the feel of a Sandra song....in comes Michael as the drum breaks and groans in the background... "silence must be heard"....1:27 this distorted like a angels voice......then the Ruth Ann comes in hard with the chorus at 1:47....this sounds like Sandra..with many effects used in old Enigma and Sandra tracks...but then this great melody synth come back in at 2:07....very nice catchy drum pattern and loops.....at 2:26 she sings the final words of the song....and this has breaks into another Cretu vocal background break.....but the atmosphere is haunting...in comes Ruth loud again at 3:00...."Silence Must Be Heard".....in comes the final melody..Damn this is catchy....and mellow but has the emotion and energy of a the old Cretu..track fades out at 4:10 with whispers of "Silence"...could this be Sandra or Ruth Ann....and into the final outro will all know from previous albums...but clear and a space feel to it!!!
This track will stay in your mind as soothing and even though it has energy...it oozes Sandra and maybe some earlier Cretu....even though Ruth Ann is singing ....but it could easily be Sandra....maybe it is.....but the melody will hook you.....as it is addictive.....this track could have surely gone longer.
What can I say?...the album is awesome.....and it will leave you spellbound in ecstasy!!...the feel and emotion has come back into our lives after 3 long years...and this album blows away Enigma 3 in context and beauty. Not overdone with vocals but pure instrumental charm with outstanding ethnic samples..where does Michael find them?
The album feel is very diversified and listening to the Carl Orf samples used it is misleading..these give the album another twist...and it is hard to fully understand how he wanted these to fit.. the Enigma feel is always present although the newer and cleaner sound is awesome!!
Moody and full of energy..give you the rollercoaster effect of emotions....the only negative..the album could have been longer.... maybe each track would have done better to be at around 5 - 6min...you want each track to keep going....as beauty should be longer. African/Jungle/Indian feel to many of the songs...but each track takes many twists and turns you really cant get comfortable with any part before it changes into another direction...but the flow is tremendous.
It is amazing how many older Enigma sounds are packed in this album..but you really don't think ..."hey this sounds old or outdated"...it is sounds new and fresh and part of the new generation album. The drums make you feel like you are born again...new sounds, new beats, new emotions....Enigma fans January 17th is not to far away...beg or borrow the money to buy the album...and you won't be disappointed!!!!
Sorry I just love Enigma.
Reproduced with permission from Enigmamusic.com for private and research purposes only.