Three years after his last LP, French producer Rone has returned with the memoir-like Mirapolis on InFiné Music. The new record travels throughout twelve districts of a city Rone has endeavoured to craft – a fantasy megapolis, founded on a vivid childhood memory of passing the French amusement park that carried the same name, and feeling spellbound from afar. As pictured on the cover, Rone sees the past through rose-colored glasses; consequently, Mirapolis combines the artist’s animated recollection with the dreamlike panache of Michel Gondry.
A self-taught musician, Erwan Castex has made progress over the course of his career, flourishing into a leader of the French electronic music scene. The album displays spiritual growth as well, following an arc that leads from fracture to wholeness. The blissful puffs of an imaginary urban landscape are dotted with flashes of turbulence, depicting darkness and uncertainty. The rest of the painted picture remains mysterious and alien until the disorienting cycles of ups and downs draw to a close.
This is not to say that the album is dark ~ quite the contrary. The album playfully moves between foundations of fun and melancholy. “I, Philip” begins like a step through the city gates, a progressive but convivial taster of what’s in store. The track tails smoothly into “Lou”, which bursts with animatic percussion, oddments of choir-led vocals and youthful howling. “Spank” offers abrupt slaps that are gradually masked behind ethereal cries and vocal make-up. “Origami” resembles the ascent and pleasure-seeking thrills of a rollercoaster ride in saturated technicolour, while the climactic peak of “Wave” is both powerful and sobering – the crash back down to truth. The blunt, harrowing lyricism of “Everything” is followed by the space-like synth of “Zapoi”, a soothing afterthought.
Like Rone’s Creatures (2015), Mirapolis explores the collective energies of collaboration. Every other track invites the ingenuity of others, including Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino, Israeli electronic music artist Noga Erez, and East London’s Baxter Dury. With their help, Rone has produced a series of unique tracks that pave an abstract path back to the furthest remnants of childhood, searching through Mirapolis with child-like wonder, innocent eyes and grown-up emotions. (Grace Wye)