Enigma – Electronic music meets Gregorian Chants

March 3, 2011 by  
Filed under Ambient Music, New Age Music, News - Nouvelles

Enigma first caught my attention because of the Gregorian chants they integrated into their music, especially on their third album Le Roi est Mort, released in 1996. But I have to admit that my favorite CD remains McMxc A.D. in which they succeeded in combining electronic music, electrical guitars and Gregorian chants!
Rather than a band, Enigma is a musical project that mixed electronic music with traditional elements from the beginning. Imagine a time when the music world just got used to synthesizer beats!

Image: Tony the Misfit

When their first hit song “Sadeness (Part 1)” came out in 1990, it seemed like the world was stunned and enchanted at the same time. Enigma’s debut album MCMXC a.D. was an instant hit and went on to top the charts in more than 40 countries.

What helped their success was the element of mystery that shrouded them like a true enigma. Founders Michael Cretu, David Fairstein and Frank Peterson tried to hide their identities as long as possible, adding to the hype about the project.

What also helped was German pop singer Sandra’s involvement in Enigma’s music. In fact, it was her voice that was recognized first in “Sadeness” and that helped propel the song onto the charts (remember her 1985 hit “Maria Magdalena”?).

But back to Gregorian chants: As listeners of my music will know, I prefer wordless songs that let my imagination flow freely. “Memoria” is a song heavily influenced and inspired by Gregorian chants and the Latin language. I attribute my fascination and fond memories of the smell of incense and the sacred and divine with the many churches I have visited, especially in my childhood.

I can only speculate what inspired Enigma to use Gregorian chants but to mix them with synthesizer sounds and dance beats was gutsy at a time when no one was doing it. Enigma truly paved the way for electronic music, especially ambient sounds, and is quite successful even today that this kind of music has been integrated into the mainstream.

Those just getting into Enigma should sample the early albums – the first one, Le Roi est Mort and The Screen Behind the Mirror (2000). The latter featured parts of the cantata “Carmina Burana” by early 20th-century composer Carl Orff, a true treat for the ears.

I have to admit that I’m not so impressed by recent Enigma albums – many of which are compilations or remixes of older hits. Worth mentioning is Enigma’s – now consisting of only Michael Cretu and Andru Donalds – public song project “The Social Song” in which the public was asked to contribute to a new song, with winners being selected out of many submissions. So yes, there is always an element of surprise with Enigma and I’m sure there’s a new project we can look forward to soon. My favorite album to date still remains McMxc A.D. in which they delivered a solid combination of electronic music and Gregorian chant that impressed my sound engineer’s ears. Try the track The Voice of Enigma and make it loud to test your sound system!

Other posts you may like: Uplifting quotes about music and life, Treat your body like a Temple, Enigma, Fantastic New age music Singers.

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Thanks for your comments. Marcomé

Comments

9 Responses to “Enigma – Electronic music meets Gregorian Chants”
  1. J Don Reynolds says:

    No music will lift your heart more while sailing across an ocean with the stars, wind at your back, spirit of your boat and all of life around you.

  2. ADAMSON MUSSA IBRAHIM says:

    PERCUSSIONS + GREGORIAN CHANTS = ?

  3. Great blog Marcomé! This is my first time on your site :) Sweet! Enigma is one of my Favs bands! I love Gregorian Chants and Michael C.’s blend and magical mixing and layering of textures are brilliant!

    Thanks for the great music links too :)

    Luminous!
    Sebastian St. George

  4. Wow what a Awesome music post and amazing pictures. I love the professional look of your website.

  5. This is cool! Kinda lost track of these guys for awhile, will be a nice new addition to my new age collection, love his new stuff. Thx for the review! Mark

  6. @legacyguy says:

    Enigma’s use of the Gregorian chant is a perversion of the Divine. Gregorian chants are actual prayers… and Enigma’s mixing of “prendre moi” and other terms accomplishes this perversion.

    Allow your music and your wonderful voice to be a bright light for others to experience the Divine. It’s all within you :D

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