Having previously lent his IDM genius to records by The National (Trouble Will Find Me) and Etienne Daho (“En Surface”), Parisian producer Erwan Castex, aka Rone, now asks them to return the favor on his surprisingly guest-heavy third album, Creatures.
It’s fair to say that the follow-up to 2012’s Tohu Bohu doesn’t exactly utilise their talents in the most effective manner. Bryce Dessner, the frontman of the Atlanta indie-rockers, is given little more to do than reel off a tour itinerary on the distorted spoken word interlude of “Roads,” while the legendary French troubadour is relegated to bonus track status on a reworked edition of “Elle.”
Thankfully, Rone proves to be a better delegator with his army of new recruits. François Marry, the lead vocalist of indie-pop outfit François & The Atlas Mountain, gives the swoonsome dream-pop of Quille la Ville a certain Gallic flair. Montreal singer-songwriter Sea Oleena provides a similar seductive quality to the sleepy synth-pop of “Sir Offeo,” And Japanese jazz musician Toshinori Kondo certainly makes his presence felt as his screeching trumpets collide with warm ambient synths on the space-age chillout of “Acid Reflux.”
Elsewhere, labelmate Bachar Mar-Khalife weaves gently-plucked strings around samples of barking dogs and Rone’s very own daughter on Creatures’ most personal soundscape, “Calice Texas.” Best of all, “Freaks” sees acclaimed cellist Gaspar Claus work his haunting magic against a suitably eerie backdrop of ghost house organs and unsettling yelps which could easily have worked as the theme to the most recent season of American Horror Story.
It’s this eclectic array of contributors which lends Creatures a human element lacking in its predecessors. But whether it’s the dizzying hip-hop beats and swirling synths of lead single “Ouija,” the 90s new age of “Memory” or the throbbing electro-pop of closer “Vif,” Rone ensures that his production skills are still given the chance to shine, resulting in a hypnotic record which offers warmth and invention in equal measure.
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