For the past 30 years Michael Cretu – the Ibiza based Romanian-German producer, composer, and songwriter – has been the corner-stone of the Enigma project, and for the eighth studio album released under the Enigma moniker, The Fall of a Rebel Angel, Cretu has teamed up German lyricist and librettist Michael Kunze to deliver a 12 song (“chapter”) concept album. Surprisingly for a concept album – although probably not for an Enigma release – The Fall of a Rebel Angel, is quite the easy listen, avoiding being overly dense and, at just 45 minutes, it isn’t too long either.
Along with Kunze, Cretu has also enlisted the talents of Brazilian singer-songwriter Mark Josher, Indonesian singer Anggun, and English electro-pop duo Aquilo, on the first original Enigma record in 8 years. The Fall of a Rebel Angel opens with the atmospheric and spoken-word Circle Eight – with vocals provided by Nanuk – which quickly cross-fades into the electro-percussion and glitched vocals of The Omega Point. The use of cross-fades between tracks ensures a coherency to the record and its narrative arc, even if that arc isn’t so obvious to those unaware of the album’s origins.
Josher’s vocals on The Die Is Cast are smooth and pleasant; although the song ends up feeling a little too standard with nothing to truly distinguish it from the crowd. Of the featured performers, Anggun is the only one to appear on multiple tracks and, while she has strong voice – as evidenced by her performance on lead single, Sadeness (Part II) – her vocals on Mother are underwhelming, being nothing if not breathy. Sadeness (Part II)’s organ and choral motif borrows heavily from classical music, providing a touchstone to Enigma’s 1990 breakthrough hit, Sadeness (Part I).
Aquilo provide a bit of shine to closing track, Amen, but not enough to change the fact that The Fall of a Rebel Angel feels more like background music, despite its lofty aspiration of presenting a coherent, theatrical narrative of personal development and growth. As enjoyable as the record is, it feels insubstantial and lacking in dynamic drive, offering little to anchor the listener’s attention. Enigma has always been somewhat of a niche product, and The Fall of a Rebel Angel certainly does nothing to alter that fact.