A new Enigma album is always exciting. Since the first album in 1990, Michael Cretu’s one man project has continued to grow and evolve, each time adding something new and slightly different – while the audience and music industry alike still point at the first album, MCMXC a.D. (with tracks like Sadness and Principles of Lust), as “that Enigma sound”. Indeed, the whole new age genre is in a way connected to Enigma because MCMXC a.D. has had such an impact. But perhaps the most interesting aspect is that Michael Cretu himself never really has returned to “that Enigma sound” of 1990 (except in the album intros) – and the new album, Seven Lives Many Faces, is something truly different from the style we remember from the first album. This time around it’s all about hip hop!
I don’t think that Michael Cretu intentionally creates new age music; he is rather like a pop artist inspired by the new age sound. Michael Cretu/Sandra’s 1980s hit Maria Magdalena is an example of this; a pop song with mystical and new ageish elements. This is also obvious on Seven Lives Many Faces; it is pop music (on iTunes Music Store it is filed under pop), but it is new age at the same time. This is what makes Enigma into such a unique band; Cretu makes pop music into new age and new age into pop.
Seven Lives Many Faces is a two CD release; the main disc with 12 tracks, and a 5 track EP. If you buy it on iTunes Music Store you’ll also get Michael Cretu’s audio comments for each track.
The first track, Encounters, starts slowly with a female voice giving some examples of the magic number seven; Seven stars, seven days, seven seals, seven gates, seven angels and so on, ending with seven lives… after this you hear the usual synth reference to MCMXC a.D. And then the album takes off with the title song Seven Lives. The layers of synth strings and the flute playing behind are an incredible mix, truly enigmatic. The heavy hip hop beats adds a nice groove. In is a unique sound, no doubt about that, and Andru Donalds’ vocal is great as usual. I can’t decide whether I like the dog panting sample or not, but the rest of the samples – like breaking glass and running horses – are well fitting. Conclusion; a new Enigma masterpiece!
Track number three, Touchness, is laidback and the use of samples remind of Enigma songs like Modern Crusaders and T.N.T. for the Brain. But The Same Parents, song number four, are something completely different; it is a very nice pop song! It asks the question, with the voice of a child; why can’t we live together in peace? After all, we have the same parents (albeit a long time ago). The two next songs are instrumental; Fata Morgana and Hell’s Heaven. These are great tracks with a relaxing, peaceful atmosphere. They remind me of Enigma’s third album, Le Roi Est Mort, Vive le Roi!, my all time favorite CD.
La Puerta del Cielo is a powerful song with an incredible vocal. The lyrics is in Catalan. It is 3min28sec of pure perfection. Yet another masterpiece! The two next tracks are also non typical Enigma songs. On the previous 6 albums, love and sensuality have always been in focus, but in a different way. This time around Enigma is unsure of love; “Do you love me?” the voice asks – while the “old Enigma” always had plenty of love and satisfaction; just compare the new track Distorted Love with The Principles of Lust from MCMXC a.D. and you’ll know what I mean.
Track no. 10, Déjà vu, is a short but beautiful song. This is a present from Cretu to all fans of Le Roi Est Mort, Vive le Roi! Here he uses plenty of samples from this album. The track also has a nice Asiatic touch. It is, as Michel says in the interview included in the iTunes version, like a déjà vu for all fans of Le Roi Est Mort, Vive le Roi! You have heard it before – and still you haven’t heard it.
The last two tracks, Between Generations and The Language of Sound, have a relaxing downbeat groove. I especially like the ethnical samples, and the synthscapes are also nice. At the very end you can hear a distant heartbeat.
The five track long EP is a nice addition to the album. The first and third track, Superficial and Downtown Silence, continues the style of Seven Lives; with a heavy beat that reminds of hip hop, but at the same time there is a mystical element. We Are Nature is also a very nice track. Cretu tells us that humans are not above nature – we are nature. My favorite track on the EP is Sunrise. The rhythm is very creative, like a ever-changing drum. It is chill out at its best. The last track, the new version of The Language of Sound, has a little more reverb and a fuller sound than the track on the main disc.
Seven Lives Many Faces is hands down the best Enigma album since Le Roi Est Mort, Vive le Roi! The sound is original, if not unique, and the songs Seven Lives and La Puerta del Cielo are instant Enigma classics. Michale Cretu has given the fans what they wanted and at the same time breathed new life into the project – and that is a major accomplishment.