On an Enigma listening kick tonight. Michael Cretu’s fledgling project has left an indelible mark on my adult life; each of the six albums is etched permanently into the soundtrack to my life. I listen and I’m swept backwards into times far-receded and fading into idyllic pastels of halcyon days.
- MCMXC A.D. – my sister was given a copy of this by an uncle; it punctuates first the summer of 1990 and later the spring of 1992 when I was able to borrow it from a friend at college. I dedicate this album to my sister, to Ryan who loaned it to me, all my other friends at the time, and to Melissa, the girl closest to me who dug it most.
- The Cross of Changes – I got into this album heavily in the summer of 1995, several years after its release. I borrowed it for a long time from my friend Steven down the hall. It punctuates that summer, the lightness and heaviness of everything, the passion of my first love. It’s dedicated to my first love, Donna, and to our friend Liz who talked me through the rough parts.
- Le Roi Est Mort, Vive le Roi! – I discovered this album while driving a delivery van during my early months in Greensboro; I thought it was a new Yes album at first; glad to be wrong. Picked it up and didn’t put it down for weeks; it carried me through my tribulations there, kept me warm on the chilling nights of late autumn. First album where the romantic ties are slim; it hit me more on an interpersonal level. Dedicated to Stephen and Misty, Paul, Pam, and Joelle, my only friends-with-history at the time.
- The Screen Behind the Mirror – arriving to me in the heady buzz of the early tech boom of 2000 in quiet Texarkana, it gave me impetus to keep pushing for escape into the world at large. I was living at home at the time and working at a hotel, so anything to make me get away from it was a welcome relief. Strongest memory is cranking this album at top volume with an empty house while getting dressed for one of my rare nights off. Dedicated to Josh, Jon, Laura, Liz, mom, and Sandra.
- Voyageur – I discovered this album while hearing the title song playing before a movie. It was Cretu’s first departure from the slightly-worn chant formula that made his project famous, and cemented his place in the league of extraordinary electronic musicians. Of note is the song “In the Shadow, In the Light” which gives voice to my loves long-lost. Dedicated to Amy, my highschool crush to whom I drove to see for the first time in 13 years at a weekend festival near Houston.
- A Posteriori – Possibly Cretu’s final album as Enigma, this album has a stark poignancy as either the end of something good or the transformation into something better. I was in a hard time emotionally last year when this came out, and I came to appreciate the smoothness, sensitivity, passion, and light that the album offered me, carrying me through another rough time into redemption. I dedicate this album to MaRanda, to whom I sent a copy, in whom I respect, from whom I’ve gained a new interpretation of love.
The emotional heaviness brought on by these albums causes me to reflect on my past; some people have no use for history, but it is my poison, tonic, elixir and medicine. I require a soundtrack for my life, and I gladly take its doses to give me perspective on my present.