1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 54

MCMXC a.D., by Enigma
Suggested by Owen Pauling

This project is weird.

If I’m honest, I expected far more troll suggestions. I expected Wiggles albums, Cheeky Girls tunes, Jedward retrospectives, the Best of Billy Ray Cyrus played by the Woolagong Digeridoo Collective.

Instead, what I got (and what I get) are genuine suggestions of music that people love. Be it Taylor Swift or Cannibal Corpse, it’s suggested with honest intention. And I give it a proper go! Even if it DOES make my ears bleed or send me off to sleep.

Then I write a review, which is a hiding to nothing. If I appreciate the album, then yippie-kai-yay. We have bonded like siblings, conjoined by the power of the dance. If I dislike it, all I am doing is disappointing someone. I’m pissing on someone’s personal taste. No one likes being told they are odd.

When the albums are polarizing, it’s simpler. People know when their tastes are on the fringe, and are happy to have their idiosyncrasies confirmed. But when the albums sit in the middling mire, neither delighting nor depressing, that’s when I try my lightest of touches. Strident sounds are fine, but no one wants to be branded dull.

That brings me to MCMXC a.D., by Enigma.

MCMXC a.D., or 1990 to its Roman mates, is an ambient trance dance album by the German band Enigma. It has a feel of Orbital, but Orbital when played by the Pan Pipes of the Andes. A sampled iconic drum loop sends the tunes gliding along in a seamless state, where our reveries is gently massaged by breathless lyrics in French or Latin, with Gregorian Chants creating a feeling of space in an already spacious tapestry.

There’s one song on here – Sadeness (Part 1) – that listeners of a certain age will recognise, primarily because on its release it topped the carts worldwide and was bloody EVERYWHERE, for a seemingly infinite amount of time. Maybe not as long as Everything I Do, I Do it for You, but close. Sadeness also heralded the Golden Age for Gregorian Chanting, because they were very popular in and of themselves for quite a while. Again, another troll suggestion I’m surprised hasn’t hit the list yet.

Sadeness (Part 1) is my standout track for sheer brand recognition, but the rest of the album is only a slight variation on the theme. I find myself metaphorically shrugging my shoulders throughout this, even though it is pleasant enough. Perhaps over-exposure to the single back in the day has made me surly, or maybe an ease of imitation is behind my ennui.

Charitably, this is relaxing. Realistically, this is boring. I give it 5/10, sad that I have to disappoint another bright-eyed and eager reader who was hoping for so much more. Maybe I deserve all the troll suggestions that I get.

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