Enigma Records was initially a division of Greenworld Distribution, an independent music importer/distributor,[1] which it split-off from in 1985 to become its own company. The label was initially located in Torrance, California, then El Segundo, California and finally Culver City, California.

Enigma was founded and run by brothers William and Wesley Hein.[1] Jim Martone joined the company in 1984 and ultimately became a partner.[2] Enigma focused on punk rock, alternative, and heavy metal music though it also released techno, jazz and classical music through subsidiary labels.

Enigma had two record divisions. The Enigma Retro division focused on re-issues of material licensed from other labels such as Straight Records, Bizarre Records, and DiscReet Records. The Restless Records division focused on acts not ready for major label distribution. Enigma also released film soundtracks including The Terminator and River’s Edge. Enigma released a compilation album, Enigma Variations, with various artists. Enigma also released some Mute Records titles in the United States. Sonic Youth’s landmark 1988 album Daydream Nation was originally released on Enigma Records, in association with Blast First Records.

Enigma Records was initially distributed through independent record importers/distributors such as JEM Records and Important Records. In 1984, Enigma entered into a joint venture with EMI America. Among the artists signed under the venture were the Red Hot Chili Peppers and SSQ (later renamed Stacy Q and signed to Atlantic Records). In 1986, Enigma moved its distribution to Capitol/EMI, a major record label, while leaving its Restless Records division with independent distributors.[3] Enigma was acquired by Capitol/EMI in 1989[1] and finally merged with Restless in 1991, where its operations, catalogs and some of the artists moved to.[4]

Enigma’s Canadian division was closed in 1992 and was reorganized into FRE Records. However, it filed for bankruptcy in 1996 and in 1999 its back catalogs were sold to DROG Records.