The Screen Behind the Mirror Review (Steven de Jong)

[The Screen Behind the Mirror Cover]

by Steven de Jong January 18 2000

The Gate 6

I am waiting for something to happen in this song, I think it is nice it symbolises number 4 (Mars) but after 1:14 nothing happened still... 1:38 there is Carmina Burana... I really like this piece but I will listen to the real CD if I want to hear it. Not to Enigma. I NEVER would have used this sample because it is way too familiar, furthermore it is in 3/4 measure which is very difficult. The song ends too abruptly.

Push The Limits 8

Best track maybe. Good strings in the beginning, good sound, nice synth sound with powerful drums, at 0:39 the ambience drops in very smoothly. The samples and whispering used (although few) are excellent and very Enigmatic. I really enjoy this song very much. But for some reason the Mongolian chant (which I think fades into a guitar solo!) repeats twice (once without drums, once with) which isn't really too wow. Especially because I'd love to have seen some more accompanying instruments. Furthermore from the moment the Mea Culpa sample and the breathing comes in, the song turns from a smooth Enigma track into an experimental track (it sounds like a bridge but there's nothing after it) with lots of off-tone panflutes. This last part... hmmm.

Gravity Of Love 8.5

I've been mailing about this. Once again I have problems with Carmina Burana being used because it is too cliché and familiar. But Ruth-Ann (Boyle) has a terrific voice and she sings a very beautiful melody. And I agree the sample fits in beautifully. But it's a quite simple song in my opinion. Furthermore it could have ended a little more nicely. Overall, a very good song but not really an achievement for Enigma.

Smell Of Desire 7.5

Beginning is nice and quiet but a little too much of nice and quiet for me. It sounds a lot like Massive Attack. At 0:46 we have a very good instrumental. Very quiet. But once again it stays quiet. For very long. Even the guitar at 2:10 is very gentle (and beautiful). The Mea Culpa lyrics, well, don't really seem to fit with a quiet song like this. Pity the only real sample used is a transposed reverse sample from Sadeness. And another instrumental sample from Find Love... At 3:40 I really have heard the song. But it goes on...

Modern Crusaders 5.5

Good beginning. But then Andru (Donalds) starts to sing. I liked his voice on his own album but it seems to have the low frequencies cut off. Furthermore he screams way too much. Cretu's voice was annoying me in previous albums when he screamed, but Andru shows you can scream even harder. The Carmina (Burana) sample shows how difficult it is to convert 3/4 to 4/4. I don't like Jens (Gad's) guitar coming after the sample. It just doesn't seem really Enigma. I liked it more in I Love You (I'll Kill You)... At 2:30 we get O Fortuna again, gee, placed in quite unprofessionally! The guitar simply stops and boink we have O Fortuna. At 3:30 we get the outtro with Bach's Toccata and church bells. I don't get happy from this song. It sounds... quite bad.

Traces (Light & Weight) 6

Very original way of illustrating the title (match and drop = light and weight). Nice sound much like Shadows In Silence but unfortunately much much more repetitive (the piano reminds me of Satie but I don't have to hear the same theme 16 (or more, haven't counted) times). Very Delerium-like for a moment at about 1:30. And it goes on and on and on with the theme...

Screen Behind The Mirror 4

I am actually pausing the CD here because I am not going to listen to this again. The song starts of quite nicely with the Sadeness drum but soon a  bass sound (not a drum) is added that will keep playing all through. This is the most annoying in this song. The Mongolian sample is still quite nice (the following yell as well), but then it starts. This turns out to be the worst Enigma song I ever heard, it sounds like Michael (Cretu)'s equipment has gone mad. Throw in some guitar, a lot of awfully distorted samples from Gravity of Love in a strange order (and a lot of samples from the unreleased Andru version of  Gravity of Love, I can imagine why he rejected it). I thought the club mixes of Gravity of Love were bad. Well this is worse. A lot worse. No melodic or lyric development, the vocals aren't aligned with the drums (especially when Andru sings a longer part at 2:12-2:30). Sounds like a remix that wouldn't deserve credit. I can imagine why it wasn't on the album originally. I am being nice (on the rating) because of the Mongolian sample and the outtro.

Endless Quest 5

Again a very powerful drum starts solo. Very dark ambient melody and nice panflutes from Enigma 1 and 2. But less haunting melody this time, much slower. And quite long. A little more variety please. Oh, at 1:47 we get Gad again. He doesn't really seem to fit. Although the guitar is reasonably gentle in the beginning it goes up into this rock solo. Brrr... 2:47, a lot of noises, off-tone ramble, mess, breathing... This song could have been marvellous but it's just a panflute solo with about 2 minutes of mess after it.

Camera Obscura 4

And there's Andru again with the Modern Crusaders vocals backwards. I liked the trick in Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi!'s ending but the meaning here isn't clear. It sounds very weird and like "hey dudes let's try this!". Andru's voice annoys me in Enigma Very powerful drums again. Oh no, Carmina Burana again. I agree, very professionally used with good drums, but I've had it with this sample by now, thank you. At 1:05 a lot of mess, again, ends the song.

Between Mind & Heart 8.5

Fantastic instrumental melody and finally a little quieter drums. I never thought I would be longing for quiet drums again after hearing Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi! but yes I do. Little soft sample in the background. Sample of Prism Of Life. I am glad to hear Cretu again (I also never thought I'd say _that_ ;-) Very nice samples that indeed remind me of the Deep Forest technique (short vocal samples). Sample of Prism (of Life) again under a very Enigmatic whisper. Angelic sound at 2:45. Soft acoustic guitars in background. Very very nice. This would have been the perfect closing track. It sounds very Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi!-like.

Silence Must Be Heard 6.5

I have never heard a track with the name "silence..." that has so much noise ;-) The song itself is quite nice but very common in a way, quite poppy. Also it has a little much plain bass playing for my taste. Ruth-Ann has a good voice. But she isn't really accompanied with much other instruments. The sudden break at 1:25 sounds very abrupt and unprofessional. However the Cretu voice and the explosion after that sound very Enigmatic and familiar. The Sadenees-like beat sound good here. At 2:45 the break again and the vocals distorted so much this time that they aren't really vocals anymore. The instrumental is a little thin. This song could have used a good instrumental. The fade-out at 4:00 sounds as if everything is finished now but we get the obligatory Enigma-outtro after it. Except the transposing of the trumpets (horns) it does not really sound different from the other albums. Quite plain.

Overall

Yes, this is definitely Enigma, you sometimes think when hearing this new album. Very professional, very good, very well balanced. But then suddenly the mood swings and we get screaming guitar solo's, huge amounts of atonal noise, pop vocals, screaming singers, songs suddenly stopping, and the endlessly repeating Carmina Burana sample. To me, as a whole this album sounds very rough, chaotic and extremely aggressive. I also thought it was unfinished in a way, as if some things were thrown on in a hurry. I really miss the brilliant samples we used to have in Enigma which now almost all have been replaced by samples from one single 2:30 minute song, O Fortuna. This is the first Enigma album I'll have to skip tracks on when playing it, because I really can't stand them. The Screen Behind The Mirror wasn't on the track listing until last minute, and I would have preferred it if it never appeared on it. Camera Obscura is unnecessary and only makes the use of Carmina Burana in the album more annoying. Silence Must Be Heard is not a bad track, but very plain. The instrumental tracks are marked by repetition.

Overall I am not very happy with what I've heard, it sounds depressing and very repetitive. This album to me definitely is not 'another MCMXC a.D.' and it didn't even top Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi!. The claim that it would be something totally new can't really have been serious, because there's quite a lot of recycling going on. This album had the potential to become great, if Micheal Cretu had taken the time and had finished it properly. Now it sounds rough and improvised.

Reproduced without permission for private and research purposes only.


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