Status File - 1998

Banco de Gaia - Michael Cretu and Enigma - Delerium - Hubert KaH - Frank Peterson and Sarah Brightman - Sandra

Banco de Gaia

Toby Marks, aka Banco de Gaia, is both blessed and cursed by not having the commercial success of other bands. Three of his commercially released albums, Maya, Last Train to Lhasa, and The Magical Sounds of Banco de Gaia, expose an artist of great talent. Marks carefully crafts ethnic overtones with underlying rhythms and dance beats. His music can be enjoyed by both world music and dance fans, and his music has been noticed in both realms.

Marks' third studio album, Big Men Cry, is markedly different from his other works. While still blending a traditional chant component, the underlying rhythms and dance beats are less apparent and replaced by a wider range of instruments such as the saxophone and a hauntingly sad wind instrument. As with Enigma's third album, Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi!, it is a complex work that is not immediately appealing but gradually becomes a rewarding listening experience. Banco de Gaia's work to date has been extremely impressive and his future albums should not disappoint.

Michael Cretu and Enigma

Enigma's record sales point to a decreased interest in the artist. Enigma's third album, Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi!, had no global hit single, and sold less copies than The Cross of Changes which had one hit single - Return to Innocence. The biggest selling album by a large margin is, predictably Enigma's first album, MCMXC a.D., which had two hit singles - Sadeness and Mea Culpa. The sales, however, do not reflect the quality of the work. While Enigma's work has become less commercially appealing, is has become increasingly complex and rewarding. As a result, Enigma's music may not get played on the radio or be immediately appealing, but it's influence grows and changes.

Some of Michael's other work has also sold poorly. He assisted with Sandra's last album, Fading Shades, and Angel X's solo album Welcome to the Soul Asylum. Each sold extremely poorly and were not well received by the listening public. On both of these albums he had an increased involvement with Jens Gad, whom he started working with on the Enigma 2 album (he did remixing work with Jens for all 4 singles from The Cross of Changes). Cretu's bond with Gad seems close as a  new project, Trance Atlantic Air Waves (TAAW), also involves him heavily. Under this name Cretu and Gad have created an album, and done remixes for Enigma and other artists. TAAW appears to be aimed towards a dance and electronic market, with singles to date making use of some of the world's popular DJs of the time such as DJ Quicksilver, and Nalin & Kane.

History shows that Michael did not appear to work as much from 1993 to 1996 as he has done before this time. He normally does most of the work on Sandra's albums, but 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. It became known in late 1999 that this is mostly due to raising his two children born in July 1995. The release of Enigma's latest album, The Screen Behind the Mirror, in early 2000 indicates that the trademark Enigma sound continues to repeat, change, and evolve. The latest album appears to have been received better, especially in the US, due to more investment in marketing. 

Delerium

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.

In 1997 Delerium went on to release Karma. With a larger budget and more time Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber had the opportunity to explore other instruments and ways of recording. The result is an album less dance-orientated and with more focus on vocals, this time including Jacqui Hunt from Single Gun Theory and Sarah McLachlan.

Unfortunately just as Delerium started to gain more commercial recognition Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber decided to part ways. Fulber has gone on to a solo career with a new album due out in early-mid 2000, and Leeb continues the band with Chris Peterson. Also interesting is  that a good two years after Karma's release and with a number of rumours flying around for months Nettwerk Records finally released Silence as a single. A dance-orientated remix of this bought huge sales and recognition of the band in the US and Australia, with the single charting for months.

Delerium's next album is due out in 2000 sometime. A track from the album, Aria, has been available since April 2000. Their music to date has been an original and outstanding excursion. With a new line-up of musicians it is hoped that this may continue and that further publicity for the band given Silence's success will allow more to enjoy their music.

Hubert KaH

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 learnt that they have had a different manager since around 1994, and that they were due for a new album in late 1996. This new self-titled album was released in 1997. It was unfortunately only released in Europe. Hubert KaH were an original and catchy band from the 1980s. It is good to see them to re-adjust their sound and still be an appealing listen in the 1990s.

Frank Peterson and Sarah Brightman

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.

Sandra

Now retired, Sandra was a big hit in Europe in the mid-to-late 1980s. Record sales have shown that her popularity has waned over time and her latest studio album, Fading Shades, sold 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.

Outside of her solo career there have been rumours as to exactly how much of a contributor Sandra has been to Enigma. Is it really her doing shallow breathing and lusty French lyrics in the first release? Are her vocals in Enigma 3? Debate continues. It is known, however, that she contributed no original sounds or vocals to Enigma's The Screen Behind the Mirror. If anything only samples from earlier albums were used.

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