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by John Bergstrom

16 Mar 2010

Enigma certainly wasn’t the worst or even the most irritating musical trend of the 1990s. “Cotton Eye Joe” and the ska/swing revival are just a couple contenders for that title. But Enigma is a perfect illustration of that decade’s knack for ever-so-closely toeing the line between class and kitsch. Conceived by Romanian composer Michael Cretu, Enigma’s odd mix of New Age synth pads, club beats, Gregorian chants, the Marquis de Sade, and, thanks to Cretu’s wailing singing voice, the Scorpions, was the perfect siphon for ‘90s pop culture.

The Platinum Collection is an ostensibly “new” triple-disc set, released to celebrate Enigma’s 20th anniversary. It was issued in Europe late last year, in America in February, and won’t get an official UK release until April. The staggered dates alone are a sign of just how much Enigma’s popularity has fallen. Also, The Platinum Collection really doesn’t have much new to offer. 12 of the 17 tracks from 2001’s Greatest Hits collection are reprised here on the “Greatest Hits” disc. The “Remix Collection” disc culls seven of nine tracks from that year’s Remix Collection. In both cases, the main difference is a few tracks from Engima’s trio of 2000s albums. You didn’t realize Enigma released three albums in the 2000s, including one in 2008? You’re not alone. The third disc is a brief selection of untitled outtakes from Cretu’s collection.

It’s easy to forget that “Sadeness (part 1)”, with its boom-CHI-boom-boom-CHI, Soul II Soul rhythm, was actually a college radio hit as well as an international sensation in 1990. The sounds themselves weren’t fresh, but the combination was, and the affected “darkness” stood out in the charts and on the radio. The MCMXC a.D. album was more of the same, in a good way. 1993 follow-up The Cross of Changes added aboriginal chanting and “When the Levee Breaks” drum samples, and got away with it. Then Cretu ran out of ideas, or simply got lazy. From 1996’s Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi! on, the beats got a little thicker, the hooks dried up, and sales went downhill. By the 2000s, Cretu was actually singing “My heart goes boum boum boum / Every time I think of you”. No surprise at all, then, that most recent single “La Puerta Del Cielo” is a complete “Sadeness” rehash. The real surprise is that Enigma managed to stick long enough to produce all the material here.

Curious bystanders will want to opt for the 2001 hits collection instead. Hardcore fans will already have nearly all this material, save the outtakes. The best that can be said for them is they offer no surprises, and Cretu doesn’t sing. In the end, this Enigma was little more than a one-trick, 1990s-vintage pony.

by PopMatters Staff

16 Mar 2010

Devendra Banhart rollicks with guest stars, including GZA, the Strokes’ Fabrizio Moretti, and MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden, in his trippy new video for “Baby” from last year’s What Will We Be.

by PopMatters Staff

16 Mar 2010

Real Estate played a widely buzzed about gig last Friday night in New York and an intrepid fan caught this tune on video.

by Jessy Krupa

16 Mar 2010

When music videos first really made their mark in the 1980s, broadcast channels devoted their Friday nights to them. As MTV and other cable channels gained dominance over the field in the 1990s, shows like Pop-Up Video and TRL pushed the networks out. While record labels threw big budgets at flashy videos, knowing that they served as both great publicity and entertainment, the cable channels realized they could profit more from cheap reality shows and “music based programming”.

Nowadays, the majority of music videos are watched on the internet, and their quality has mostly suffered as a result. In fact, some people say the music video is dead. But the music video is not dead. In 2007, OK Go became famous for their inventive treadmill routine in the “Here It Comes Again” video. Currently, Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s nine minute long “Telephone Line” is making a name for itself on the internet.

Nevertheless, aren’t music videos, as a valid art form, worthy of more than a tiny screen on a website or MP3 player? They should be viewed in a larger screen, on a medium that’s free and available to everyone, regardless of bandwidth. While we don’t have the power to add music videos to broadcast television, after all there are infomercials and sitcom reruns that need to be aired, someone is trying.

by Sarah Zupko

15 Mar 2010

Christian Prommer
Drumlesson Zwei
Releasing: 13 April

German producer and musician Christian Prommer continues the sort of genre blending we love at PopMatters on his upcoming Drumlesson Zwei. “Sandstorms” is a Carl Craig cover and the album is a mix of old and new tunes. Sample the track below and check out the interview featurette with Prommer discussing the creation of the record.

01 Sandstorms
02 Groove La Chord
03 Sleepy Hollow
04 Acid Eiffel
05 Oxygène Part IV
06 Jaguar Pt 1
07 Jaguar Pt 2
08 Sueno Latino
09 High Noon
10 Sandcastles

Sandstorms [MP3]

//Mixed media

The Moving Pixels Podcast Looks at the Scenic Vistas and Human Drama of 'Firewatch'

// Moving Pixels

"This week we consider the beautiful world that Campo Santo has built for us to explore and the way that the game explores human relationships through its protagonist's own explorations within that world.

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