I believe E8 will be the last Enigma album for an extended period of time. No one really knows for sure if it is going to be last album, but I have personal doubts because:
Enigma's first chapter ended with the fourth album so the second probably will end with the eighth. After E8 is released its possible another Greatest Hits package will be released. This is usually when record companies will re-sign an artist or drop them from their roster. If that happens, Cretu can try to negotiate with other labels or opt to release Enigma albums independently or retire the project entirely.
My E8 Wishlist
In my own dream world, my ultimate wishlist for Enigma's 8th album... would see all of the original collaborators on E1 help Michael Cretu develop and produce tracks for E8. I'm talking the "mother of all collaborations" to include Michael Cretu, David Fairstein, Frank Peterson, Sandra, Jens Gad, Peter Cornelius, Louisa Stanley, Ruth-Ann Boyle and Andru Donalds.
Could you imagine how incredible the album would be with all of these people working together? That would be a fine way to wrap up the Enigma project, or at least bring it full circle. I mean seriously, bury the hatchet with Frank Peterson and get back together - for the sake of music - for the fans.
E1 had loads of sexual overtones, French speaking, Gregorian chanting, church references, bells, sounds from centuries long ago... BRING IT ALL BACK! I'm not saying you have to repeat yourself- but surely you can create something new out of something old. That's what sold well. That's what the people wanted to hear. Go back to the original samples, the original files you worked on back in 1989 / 1990 when you first put together "MCMXC a.D.". The potential contract renewal / extension (with another 1 to 4 Enigma albums) is at stake!
All I'm saying is go back to the original sample collections, take another listen for E8. Fan's aren't asking for an exact copy of E1 again... but whatever you did on E1 worked and since Enigma could truly use another massive worldwide hit again, I don't think this is a bad idea; it's not a bad place to start.
Sampling is and has been a large part of what contributed to Enigma's success in the first place... get back to sampling. Some of the songs that sounds the most interesting make use of samples.
Enigma revolutionized "New Age" music. Think about it. The word "New Age" music. Michael Cretu, David Fairstein and Frank Peterson ushered in a new age- a new era of world music. The world needs another Enigma album to remind us, to reunite us as one in the world, during these ever increasing turbulent times.
Ethnic Chants, the Falling Star Effect, the Moaning and Breaths, Chimes, Church Organ, Ambient Noises (Rain, Thunder, Ocean, Horses), Nervous Hi-Hats, Snares, Choirs, Reversed Beats, Reversed Vocals, French Whispering, Sudden Crossfades- they're all part of the Enigma formula- what makes Enigma, well... Enigma.
Why Enigma's Latest Music Is Not So Popular and How I Would "Fix" Enigma
The point of Enigma, hence the name of the project, is that it was supposed to be shrouded with secrecy; and over the years that has eroded. To a point, we've come to know what to expect, and there's no mystery. I've already mentioned past "mysteries" (Margarita Roig, sampling Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana", playing music and vocals in reverse) that pleasantly surprised me... I think we need more surprises.
Michael Cretu took the wrong direction when he said that he wants to be original and make every album unique and ''original'' (E5/6/7), but what he did is, completely moved away from Enigma's original feeling and uniqueness of it's sound. That's where the main problem lies. MC wanted to be original and made a mistake. He already was original with his sound, he only should try to compose it better with today's sounds, not completely change the direction and feeling of his synths and melodies.
First of all, and I hate to be the one to say this, but stylistic world music has now become more of a niche market. Radio Stations simply do not play or give Enigma's style of music a chance on mainstream top 40 radio anymore- at least not in the United States (and let's leave the politics of the U.S. aside please, because a lot of the music I listen to is from Europe).
Unless the Enigma project receives full support from not only the record label but also radio stations who reach the mainstream record-buying/downloading public, there's a slim chance of E8 becoming a global success.
The press release for E1 states the album was completed in 8 months time (with David Fairstein and Frank Peterson). Cretu's agreement with Virgin/EMI states 2-3 years between albums by contract, and we all know that Enigma needs another worldwide hit but I can't help but wonder if, in two/three years time (especially on the last 3 albums), maybe there's too much time in between releases for second-guessing and doubt, which is why the albums have less focus? Or maybe Michael hurried through them? Or neither? Spend a year and create just to create- not with the goal of making hits. That's what happened with E1... it took 8 months and Cretu didn't know what to expect so he released the album as Curly M.C. not expecting the album to take off like it did.
I know from studying the music business for two decades that three-years in-between album releases is suicide in the music industry. Think about it: the average shelf life of a pop-star at best is 5 years. In 5 years time a pop star will release 2-3 full albums and a Greatest Hits package and that's generally the last you every hear from them.
(Remember Paula Abdul or The Spice Girls). Paula Abdul waited 3 years in-between her massive "Spellbound" album in 1992 and by the time she released "Head Over Heels" in 1995 her audience had moved on. Sure, there are exceptions; but this is how its worked in the Industry for years and years. The same has happened for Janet Jackson. She waited three years between "The Velvet Rope" in 1997 and "All for You" in 2001 and "All for You" didn't chart as well as her previous album. So she waits another three years and releases "Damita Jo" in 2004 and struggles even further. Did you know she's released an additional two albums since? Probably not unless you're a Janet fan since they didn't get any promotion.
What I'm saying is... three years is A LONG TIME and the general public has forgotten about Enigma. Lack of radio airplay had contributed to this. So has lack of other promotion such as touring. Most artists try to make an album release a huge EVENT with weeks and months of TV and radio promo, and a world tour.
We get a press release that Enigma's releasing an album, maybe a lackluster music video and that's it. How is that going to sell records... especially to a public who's forgotten who you are? The fans in 1990 are all grown up now with families of their own. This isn't a bad thing- there are generations and generations of people the entire world over who have never been exposed to Enigma.
Now is the BESTTIME to release a new album if all sides can commit to proper promotion and publicity. I'm just not sure that Virgin/EMI knows how to properly promote New Age music and the Enigma brand, and based on their track record with the last 3 albums... I'm not sure that they care either.
Enigma needs a groundbreaking / breakthrough new single with a kick-ass music video and club friendly remixes by some of the top DJ's and remixers (Oakenfold, BT, Kaskade, ATB). Michael Cretu and Virgin/EMI need to commit to promote E8 with every ounce of marketing muscle they have. They also need the support of mainstream radio, clubs and DJs. It wouldn't hurt to have the lead single tied in with the soundtrack of a summer-blockbuster (theme song to the new 2012/2013 Bond film maybe?) Maybe another Social Song experiment tied to MTV/VH1 aimed at teen/young adults would help break Enigma into a new age demographic while still appealing to its fan base. After all, these kids have no idea what Enigma is; they're only being fed Rap and R&B tunes.
P.S. - I really enjoy b-sides, bonus tracks, 2 disc sets... throw in a juicy bonus for your loyal fans and get them talking... get them excited... and they'll promote with word of mouth for free. (Also, I'm bummed there weren't any remixes from E7!!!)
I know in past interviews Cretu has said he's opposed to doing collaborations with big name celebrities; however I think now is the best time to reconsider this. First, it will add something new to the project for the Enigma fans. Second, you have an instant built-in fan base from whomever you choose to work with which will help boost sales and promotion. I'm not suggesting Madonna- but if you used Madonna in one of your productions (as an example), she comes with a guarantee of a certain level of promotion by default based on who she is, and by default X number of fans will buy the album/single just because Madonna contributed on it. I want to state again that I am NOT suggesting Madonna as a potential collaborator on an Enigma album. Maybe the collaboration should be a secret; that would add to the fun / mystery for Enigma fans and the fans of whomever was chosen for a collaboration. Perhaps it could be revealed for the first time in ... concert. More details on this below in a moment.
I do think it would be interesting to collaborate with Kylie Minogue, Kristy Thirsk, Sarah McLachlan or the lesser-known Monalisa Young who could provide some awesome background vocals for the project. Or... for the new age fan, what would an Enigma-Enya collaboration sound like? Maybe an Enigma/Deep Forest/Enigma collaboration? That would surprise the hell out of fans. It could work, and reinvigorate the brand... just please... less of Andru Donalds and Ruth-Ann's vocals.
The release of E8 should also come with an announcement of the first Enigma world tour. Everyone who's been involved with the project, who wants to be involved should be involved. Cretu, Ruth Ann, Angel X, Andru Donalds, Sandra- should all be there singing live. The show could be in a theatre-like style with ethnic dancing, monks, and so on. It would be neat to include the key social song participants and bring them out on the road too. You'd only have to play major markets - Germany, Paris, Spain, UK, Los Angeles, New York, but this would really help publicize the new album and garner the attention of new fans, and old and spark a new interest in Enigma. And yes, I would enjoy a complimentary pair of tickets and a chance to shake Mr. Cretu's hand for the suggestion.
Overall, I think that poor radio promotion, lack of touring, poor music videos and selecting the wrong singles, along with a lack of mystery and misguided albums have all contributed to the downfall of Enigma over the last three albums.
Let me ask you something...
When was the last time you heard Enigma in a movie, television show, or movie trailer? When was the last time you thought to yourself "Wow (song name here) would have been perfect for (name TV show/movie here)... ??? Enigma's publishing company needs to be actively pursuing licensees, not just sitting and waiting for people to come to them. If M.C.'s publishing company was more aggressive in seeking movie trailers, soundtracks and TV shows that featured his Enigma songs, this would help boost an interest in Enigma! But this hasn't been happening. At least not that I've experienced lately in the US.
Trailer for "The Matrix" movie (Enigma's "Eyes of the Truth" makes an appearance at the end)
Delerium's album "Karma" is proof that "new age" music is alive and well. The duo's collaboration with Sarah McLachlan, on the song "Silence", became the band's biggest hit single 10 years after their formation.
The song was such a hit for Delerium they released it again as a remixed compilation disc in 2004 and the song was remixed again in 2006, 2008 and 2009- providing fans with new takes on a song they love so dearly. Enigma continues to release the same old recycled remixes over and over and over again. I'll be the first to admit it... Enigma was the one and only "New Age" artist I ever had listened to (aside from Enya's "Orinoco Flow" / "Caribbean Blue" singles. "Silence" is proof that New Age music can become popular once more.
Delerium's "Silence" featuring Sarah McLachlan from the album "Karma"
Will Mr. Cretu be able to create something BIG for Enigma once more?
Yes, I with no doubt in my mind believe that Enigma can fuse and blend amazing, intriguing cultural beats into a relevant worldwide hit album once again... but it will take the right single, released at the right time, with the right promotion to succeed.
Whether the stars will realign and allow this magical combination to create a second globally successful hit phenomenon, and whether that single will ever see the light of day is indeed an Enigma of it's own.
(Special thanks to Wikipedia for helping me with my research for this article, which I had been wanting to write for several years now.)