Le Roi Est Mort, Vive le Roi!

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Enigma burst on the scene in the early '90s with a pretty nifty schtick: dance beats and lush chord washes underpinning such exotica as muttered French sex talk and Gregorian chant, all unified by a bizarre theme somehow related to the Marquis de Sade. The concept was never as original as some people thought (Mark Stewart's "Maffia" had set plainchant to electro-funk as far back as 1984), but it worked nicely, and "Sadeness" (har har) was an international dance club hit. Two albums later, Michael Cretu (the individual who records under the Enigma moniker) doesn't seem to have done much to expand upon his original ideas. The monks are still there, floating in a murky club mix, though this time they're joined by a cool Mongolian ensemble as well. Cretu is singing more, which is unfortunate since his voice is mediocre and his lyrics silly, but the occasional high point does emerge, such as the darkly lovely "The Child in Us." Most of the album, however, is twaddle. Song titles like "Morphing Thru Time," "Beyond the Invisible" and (seriously) "Odyssey of the Mind" will give you a good idea of what to expect -- lots of atmosphere, lots of reverb, lots of sternly intoned lyrics about, er...something or other. What's missing is musical interest. Overall, the cool packaging is the only thing noteworthy about this disappointing effort.

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