From the late 1970s onward, Michael Cretu already had his own music career on his hands and apart from some collaboration efforts with several other musicians, he also produced his wife's albums. Before Enigma, he released a number of albums under his own name, but none of them sold particularly well. Cretu revealed in an interview that he believed that his ideas were running out at that point.
In December 1990, after eight months of preparation, Cretu released Enigma's debut album, MCMXC a.D., which received over 60 platinum-level sales awards worldwide, and topped the charts in 41 countries,directly becoming the most successful Virgin records act of those times.The album was Cretu's first commercial success through the single "Sadeness (Part I)," which juxtaposed Gregorian chants and sexual overtones over a dance beat that was highly peculiar to the ears of the public at that time. Cretu explained that the album was about unsolved crimes and philosophical themes such as life after death, hence the name Enigma. He had previously used a Gregorian-type chant on the opening seconds of Sandra's 1987 single "Everlasting Love", without integrating them into other parts of the song. "Sadeness" quickly rose to the top of the charts in Germany and France; it went on to become an almost-worldwide hit. Later Cretu would claim that the now signature Enigma sound was inspired after falling asleep on the London Underground.
Before the album was released, Cretu was cautious of the response towards the upcoming album, decided to forgo mentioning his and most of the personnel's real name and credited himself as Curly M.C., while the album sleeve contained little information about the background of the project, furthering the mystery about the creators of the album and leading to speculation whether Enigma was a band, a person or a group.
In 1993, Cretu was given an offer by producers to compose the full soundtrack of the motion picture Sliver, but he was unable to accept the offer. Instead, he came up with "Carly's Song" ("Age of Loneliness" in the album and video releases) and "Carly's Loneliness," which were used in the movie and credited in the motion picture soundtrack as well.
In the same year, The Cross of Changes was released and it received about the same response from the public (it sold 6 million copies in a year). However, both of the albums also hitched up lawsuits over the issue of sampling from other music sources.
In 1996, Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi! (French for "The King is dead. Long live the King!") was released. Cretu's idea was that this third album was the child of the previous two albums, and therefore included familiar elements of Gregorian chants and Sanskrit/ Vedic chants in it. Though the album was as meticulously crafted by Cretu as the earlier two albums, it failed to achieve the same level of success that they enjoyed. As a result only two of the three singles originally slated were released, with the third one ("The Roundabout") being silently cancelled in 1998.
The 2000 release of The Screen Behind the Mirror included samples from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana on four tracks on the album. This time the Gregorian chants were toned down a lot, but still Shakuhachi flutes and other traditional Enigma signatures remain. Only "Gravity of Love" and "Push the Limits" were released as singles from the album. Ruth-Ann Boyle from the band Olive and also Andru Donalds mark their first appearance on the Enigma project.
In 2001, Cretu released a new single called "Turn Around" together with Love Sensuality Devotion: The Greatest Hits and Love Sensuality Devotion: The Remix Collection to end what he considers to be the first chapter of Enigma. A light show was held at the Munich Planetarium in conjunction of the release of the compilation albums.
2003's Voyageur was considered by many to be a total makeover of the project. Practically all of the prominent Enigma signature elements (the ethnic and Gregorian chants, the famous Shakuhachi flutes) were no longer in use for this album. As a result many fans did not appreciate this new direction and sales were affected. From a statistical point of view, every Enigma studio album to date has sold roughly half of what the previous release did.
To commemorate the fifteen years of Enigma, a very special limited-edition album called Fifteen Years was launched, which was the size of an old LP vinyl disk, with Leonardo Davinci's art in the cover, a big booklet with extra art, and featured eight compact discs; all the previous albums, the DVD Remember the Future; and a special and exclusive bonus CD that was called The Dusted Variations, which included the project's greatest hits remade by another project. All of the songs were very different from the originals, and it sounded very dreamy and had almost no percussion. This disc also contained the single version of "Hello and Welcome", which was later released as a single.
On 28 August 2005, Enigma's management (Crocodile-Music.de) announced the release of the project's latest single, "Hello and Welcome", originally slated to be released in October; the release date was, however, then moved to 25 November 2005. The single finally released in Germany on 10 March 2006. The song was also the walk-in music of the German boxer Felix Sturm and, much like Voyageur, shows little similarity to earlier Enigma works.
On 26 September 2006, Enigma's sixth album A posteriori was released worldwide, containing a new version of "Hello and Welcome" and the new song "Goodbye, Milky Way", which, despite earlier announcements, was not released as a single. The album is more techno- and pop-oriented electronic music than any previous one. The concept is based on such sciences as astronomy, physics, history, and sociology.
A DVD version of A posteriori was released on 16 December 2006, which featured kaleidoscope images in synchronization with the multi-channel remastered music.
In late March 2007, a special private lounge remix album version of A posteriori was released on the iTunes Music Store. This compilation includes 12 new remixed tracks from the album by artists such as Boca Junior, Tocadisco, and more. Some of these tracks were available previously on the original A Posteriori iTunes version of the album and on the previously mentioned DVD release.
The Platinum Collection - a 3 CD compilation was released on 27 November 2009, in Germany, and on 9 February 2010 worldwide. First CD contains Enigma hits, second - remixes, and the third one is a collection of "Lost Track" - Michael Cretu musical experiments, which never were finalized and released before.
On 5 October 2010, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the first album MCMXC a.D., The Enigma Social Song project began.Enigma fans were asked to submit vocals for a new Enigma song. The public were then asked to vote, with the winning submission "Fei mea" being provided by Latvian singer Fox Lima.The top 3 runners up Mark Joshua from Brazil, J. Spring fom Spain and Rasa Serra from Lithuania will provide supporting vocals. Fans will get to influence further stages of the song's creation by voting on elements such as instruments and mood. The final mix is due for download on 14 December 2010.