Rarely does an artist try consciously to be as predictable as Enigma – after a couple of albums of the same drum pattern, the same intro noises, and the same spoken voices, you might be going slightly crazy. Persevere, and you’ll find at least one or two absolutely essential chillout albums.
You’ll remember the 1990 megahit Sadeness (Part 1), the enormous Return to Innocence (1994), and quite possibly not much else, unless you’re German. That’s OK though – there’s plenty to look forward to!
Where to start
There are a couple of singles collections you could start with, but I’d actually suggest skipping them, and starting way back at the beginning with 1990’s MCMXC a.D.
What to buy
The key albums are the first three, so follow the first in order with The Cross of Changes (1994) and Le Roi est Mort, Vive le Roi! (1997). Then the best of the later albums is A Posteriori (2006).
Don’t bother with
Voyageur (2003) is uniformly dreadful, and the other albums are largely patchy. With a couple of exceptions, don’t bother with the singles, regardless of whether they include pretentious statements about how they don’t contain remixes “that violate the original song”.
The collaborations with Ruth-Ann Boyle are largely good, particularly Gravity of Love and Silence Must Be Heard. His most recent freebie MMX (The Social Song) (2010) is fun despite the over-processed vocals. Finally, the A Posteriori (Private Lounge Remix) album (2007) is well worth hearing.