Status File - 1996
While Enigma's last release solo effort, The Cross of Changes, has sold well world-wide since its release in late 1993, its sales have not been close to those for MCMXC a.D. and the album only produced one hit single, Return to Innocence. Since then Michael Cretu has gone on to assist with Sandra's Fading Shades and Angel X's solo album Welcome to the Soul Asylum, each of which has sold extremely poorly and which have not been well received by the listening public. Things are therefore clearly not looking positive, and it has to be asked why.
Many people believe the answer is because of his increased involvement with Jens Gad, for whom he has worked with on the albums for Sandra and Angel X. He also done remixing work with Jens for all 4 singles from The Cross of Changes. Jens Gad is a dance-orientated musician, and this has shown heavily in the singles and on Sandra's latest album. Has this had a bad influence on Michael's work?
Evidence also shows that Michael has not worked as much since 1993 as he has done before this time - whereas he normally does most of the work on Sandra's albums, this time he did very little; he no longer produces for Hubert KaH; and he has not released a solo album or collaboration since 1992. While one obvious factor for less work being done has been the birth in July 1995 of his first two children, it still does not explain the period between 1994 and mid-1996.
Undoubtedly the release of his latest album in November 1996 will be a test of whether Michael still has got what it takes. With four million advance sales for the album and a well-received first single taken from it, things are looking good!
Up until 1994, Delerium were a fairly unknown band. Best known for the creation of dark and gothic music which seemed best suited in a soundtrack, it was not until the release of Semantic Spaces under the Nettwerk label that they received more commercial recognition of their music. Heralding a new musical direction, the album features vocals, and borrows heavily from other artists in terms of its samples and rhythms, including Enigma, Deep Forest, The Orb and Vangelis. While the album is not totally original (different tracks can be highlighted as dedications to artists because they use the same style and use a number of that artists' samples) it is, none the less, a brilliant musical journey from two very talented men.
It is known that Delerium are currently recording a new album which will follow in the vein of Semantic Spaces. Expected in February 1997, it will undoubtedly further prove the talent of Delerium and, given proper marketing and exposure to the right markets, will expose them to a much greater number of fans.
The original and catchy tunes of Hubert KaH have been few and far between over the last decade. Recording their last studio album, Sound of my Heart, in 1989, they didn't release anything again until the single C'est la Vie in 1995. This wonderful track, recorded with the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra, had some noticeable changes. Firstly it was under a different record label, Polydor. It also credited a previously unmentioned artist as a musician, Dietmar Kawohl - it is not known whether he is a member of the band or not. From discussions with Enigma's manager in January 1996 I also know that they have had a different manager since around 1994, and that they are due for a new album in late 1996. If C'est la Vie is anything to go by, Hubert KaH is still as original and fresh now as they were in the late 1980s.
Frank Peterson is an artist who has done a lot of work for a number of artists this decade. Good friends with Michael Cretu until a major difference in opinion sometime around late 1991 or 1992, he is best known for his work under the name of Gregorian, and with Sarah Brightman. In fact debate is still on about his Gregorian album Sadisfaction and whether a track from it, So Sad, was inspired by Enigma (who created a similar track called Sadeness), or whether the opposite is true.
From 1990 until around 1993, it was hard not to think of Michael Cretu and his work when you heard an album done by Frank Peterson because there was always at least one sample used by Michael Cretu on his albums somewhere. Regardless, he still showed some originality through his piano playing or use of samples. If anyone still doubts his 'copying' of Michael Cretu today, however, his latest studio album done with Sarah Brightman, Fly, is proof that he knows how to handle a keyboard! Full of original samples, melodies, and use of sound, there are hardly any Michael Cretu samples or styles to be heard! Instead the listener hears a thoroughly original work and is given evidence of the progression of Peterson's abilities from the early 1990s until now. His future releases will be worth looking forward to.
Things are not looking good for Sandra. A big hit in the mid-to-late 1980s, sales have shown that her popularity has waned over time with her latest album, Fading Shades, selling very poorly. While it could be debated that the reasons for poor sales of this album is due to a totally different line up of musicians to her other albums, the fact still remains that since the release of her first album, The Long Play, her sales have gradually been decreasing and her albums have been released in less countries. Today, the release of her catalogue is only guaranteed in Europe, with the United States not locally releasing her product since the late 1980s, and Australia only releasing part of her catalogue.
While Sandra's solo career may not be going so well, there is still no question that she is the undisputed choice as the 'voice of Enigma'. From her shallow breathing and lusty French lyrics in the first release, to her use of vocals in Enigma 3, she has been a valuable contribution to Enigma's success.
The birth of twins in July 1996 may prove to be a blessing for all involved. While it may spell the end of her career if she decides to dedicate her entire time to her children due to the commitments needed to release a solo album, it may, however, still give her the opportunity to contribute to future Enigma albums.