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Enigma’s Ambient Exploration: ‘The Screen Behind The Mirror’

On Enigma’s ‘The Screen Behind The Mirror,’ Michael Cretu brings a sense of spirituality to his sampling methods, pushing ambient music in a new direction.

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The Screen Behind The Mirror
Cover: Courtesy of Polydor

It’s an album that divides opinion. There are some that claim that The Screen Behind The Mirror is Michael Cretu’s most sophisticated album, while those that disagree claim that the extensive samples from Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana overshadows the work.

Let’s examine the evidence. Released on January 14, 2000, Enigma’s, The Screen Behind The Mirror sets out its stall from the opening bars of “The Gate,” and it features a sample from Carmina Burana – but it is an extremely evocative track that leads into “Push The Limits” which became the second single to be taken from the album.

Listen to The Screen Behind The Mirror now.

The Beatles - Now And Then
The Beatles - Now And Then
The Beatles - Now And Then

The first single was “Gravity of Love,” which also has snippets of Orff, and to be fair is the song that relies on samples more than any other. While neither track became hits outside of Germany, they both helped propel the album into the UK Top 10, Enigma’s third in the ten years since MCMXC a.D. (Its British singer, Ruth-Ann Boyle, was previously in the band Olive, who had a minor hit in 1997 with “You’re Not Alone.”)

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“Smell of Desire” reprises the shakuhachi flute from the MCMXC a.D., and it’s a very evocative track. “Modern Crusaders,” samples “O Fortuna” but ends with a sample from Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.” “Traces (Light and Weight)” is textbook Enigma, and hypnotic as well. For the album’s title track, it’s the rhythm that was central to the success of “Sadeness (Part I).” Joining Boyle on vocals is Andru Donalds. It’s one of the album’s highpoints.

The “Endless Quest” is arguably the least successful individual track on the album. “Camera Obscura,” is short, though not necessarily sweet. “Between Mind and Heart” features Michael Cretu on this track and it, too, is another of the album’s high points. Ruth-Anne Boyle, meanwhile, sings on “Silence Must Be Heard” and it is a very effective closing track, closing with the signature Enigma horn.

The verdict? The inclusion of the samples from Carmina Burana are all over the album. But they’re present for a reason. They give this album a sense of cohesion, so we very much fall into the supporters of The Screen Behind The Mirror.

The Screen Behind The Mirror can be bought here.



  1. Paul McEvoy

    October 25, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    This is most definitely one of my favourite Enigma albums – it’s so unique and experimental with its layering of mystifying samples that I believe it undoubtably makes it distinctive and authentic. The interperetation of the philosophical mystisism it portrays makes this music eternally appriciative. The only sad thing I found with all the enigma albums collectively is that I personally didn’t enjoy the more recent albums like voyager, purely because it felt that they where trying to sound fresher and modern, and in doing so almost lost the vibe that the initial albums created. The judgment isn’t on creating different sounding music, because massive attack do this very well, it was more that the newer ones felt they where trying to be too enigmatic, and thus losing the eternal almost Devine vibe that the previous ones emanated and what I feel made them special.

  2. MarkyMark

    October 26, 2015 at 1:23 am

    In an age where there are no original tracks, due mostly to over sampling from every artist under the sun. This is another example of perfection. I am not mad in any way. Still a cut above the rest!

  3. Dishant Pandya

    October 26, 2015 at 2:29 am

    It is one of the very good albums. None of the tracks are worth skipping. For me between mind and heart went onto to become my favourite from all the albums together. The album has this dark and dreamy energy which is sometimes quick and aggressive and sometimes floating in space like in between mind and heart, traces and smell of desire. The guitar used in smell of desire just show how well cretu moulds the tracks into soul touching experiences. I like the two tracks endless quest and camera obscura. It feels like just one track actually. Camera obscura uses revere playback of modern crusaders following o Fortuna. A very strong track. I have given up ranking the first 4 albums because of how different they are and also at the same time of similar. Definitely a must listen if you haven’t till now.

  4. georg

    October 26, 2015 at 5:34 am


  5. Appie

    October 26, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    This is the Enigma album that set in motion his change to more “electronic” sounding and somewhat more uptempo, almost dance, music.

    For me it was the start of even less interesting albums that followed.

    I miss the old enigma with a much more suspenseful sound and buildup. With a much more organic and raw sound. That’s how he seperated himself from the crowd. The new stuff i consider mediocre electronic stuff. An area where there are so many other who do it better.

    My favorite Enigma album is The Cross of Changes. Which is possible my favorite album in general.

  6. Athena

    October 26, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    From the 7 Enigma albums that I own, this fourth album The Screen Behind The Mirror is my favorite from all. There’s too much to say about it but I would just like to describe it with two words… “Powerful and Sexy”. Best soundtrack for Love making and fantasizing 😉

  7. Syed

    December 23, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    This was the first enigma album I listened, still love it more than any other enigma album.
    <3 from Pakistan

  8. http://www./

    November 15, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    Now I feel stupid. That’s cleared it up for me

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