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Unlike pop stars in the music industry, most ambient avant-garde musicians and producers are notoriously low-key and leave their music to do the talking for them. Atop this list sits Michael Cretu of Enigma, worshipped by clubbers, revered by new age purists and known for spearheading the Electronic music genre and giving other projects the credibility and platform to shine. After taking the world by storm for the past three decades, Cretu’s now set his sights on reinventing pop music once again with Enigma’s latest release A Posteriori.

Before Enigma
Born in Bucharest, Romania to an Austrian mother and a Romanian father, Cretu’s musical journey began in 1975 when he immigrated to Germany. There he studied Classical music at the Academy of Music in Frankfurt, finally graduating in the Theory of Composition at the top of his class. Thanks to that, he immediately found work as a studio musician and arranger and began making a name for himself as an accomplished keyboard player. A solo career began in 1979, but it wasn’t till 1985, as the keyboardist in Moti Special (a German New Wave band he co-founded) that his career began to take off. After a few top ten hits, Cretu left the band to pursue his higher calling as a writer, producer and keyboard player to other pop artists

The Birth Of Enigma
After marrying Sandra Lauer in 1988, he set up his own studio in Ibiza and working with collaborators Frank Peterson and Fabrice Guitad, resulted in the trio’s first single Sadeness Part 1 under a project named Enigma. Blending spiritual dance music with Gregorian chants, Virgin Records started distributing the single, which contained only the project’s name and the track's title ~ bearing no reference to who was behind it ~ to a small group of select DJs. The track soon grew from an underground club-hit into a #1 single in 23 countries, selling millions of copies. With the single's astounding success, a full-length album titled MCMXC a.D. was quickly released in December 1990.

The New Enigma Album: A Posteriori
Cretu has accomplished quite a bit with Enigma, but clearly the best is yet to come. After a change of direction on the last album, his first Enigma release in three long years A Posteriori proves to be a delightful return to their beginning. Electronic chants, classical music and new age beats hypnotically blend into one another, making this their most sensual since 1990’s Enigma 1. If the first single is anything to go by, this could end up being the album of Cretu’s career. Speaking to us on the phone from his home in Ibiza, Michael Cretu gave us an exclusive insight into the world of Enigma.

The Record: Enigma is known to be a project that values privacy. An interview with you is still considered a rare event…
Cretu: No, not at all. I am giving you an interview, no? (Laughs) I feel very close to India...that’s why I am speaking with you this evening.

TR: That’s nice to hear. It’s been years since we’ve seen a full-length album from you. Why did it take so long?
Cretu: The world expects from me every time something new and unique...but it's not so easy… I do everything by myself, so I’m limited in my capacities. (Laughs) If you look back from the first album till today, the period between each album took time. To be honest with you, I had already begun to think of making a new album after Enigma 5 was just done, but I knew it would take three to three and a half years as well because I need time… It's not that easy.

TR: You’ve always come across as man with something to say. So what’s the agenda on A Posteriori?
Cretu: The whole album is meant to be like the dream of an alchemist from another galaxy. Kepler, Nostradamus, Galileo Galilei...they were all was the term of the first scientists. One wanted poison for kings, one was doing medicine, the other one was looking at the's the base of the modern science. I’m an alchemist of music looking to express myself. I love music. If you forbid me to make music, I will probably die. I don't know what I would do if didn't.

TR: Your last project Voyageur was considered to be Enigma's most different album ever created. Was that the beginning of a new cycle for you musically? What direction did you take with this new album?
Cretu: Voyageur is perfect for the time it was recorded and I couldn't make it any better under the same conditions. I always deliver something that I’m convinced is the best I can do in each period of my life… I will never give something out if I’m not convinced of it. People deciding that it's good or bad afterwards is something I can't control. (Laughs) I wanted to make a record kind of like my first one, so this new album is the closest to Enigma 1. I wanted to make a pure record from scratch, so on the new record there are no samples or nothing.

TR: But samples are a trademark of the Enigma sound…. Cretu: I wanted to make a walking, living piece of music, so though the basic initial songs are simple and primitive; you will never get bored as there's always something happening. This is not like the previous Enigma efforts, with lot of speeches and recitations and so on. This time what I did was instead of using monks and chants as I did in the past, I used artificial voices. Today there are some machines that create voices that are pretty natural, but you can feel that they are synthetic, and that's a beautiful, beautiful sound. So now we have electronic monks and electronic opera singers, but they sound very good and very warm, something you won't be expecting at all.

You can read the rest of our exclusive with Enigma in the August 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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