Rone: Tohu Bohu

Erwan Castex's sophomore Rone collection, Tohu Bohu, makes good on the promise of his also-strong 2009 debut Spanish Breakfast. The new release upholds InFiné's rep for well-seasoned and polished electronic dance music, and its forty-eight minutes offer a solid argument in support of Castex's wide-ranging talents. The now Berlin-based Castex recorded the album in his newly adopted city and drew inspiration from its (in his own words) “combination of serenity during the day and effervescence at night,” qualities that emerge in equal measure in the album's ten pieces.

“Tempelhof” plays like an overture for the album but is no less strong for doing so, especially when it immediately re-establishes the synth-heavy gleam of Rone's sound while also firmly setting in place the powerful rhythmic drive of the material. Moving away slightly from the opener's melodic techno style, “Bye Bye Macadam” serves notice that Tohu-Bohu will be more than variations on a single theme by coupling its chiming synth swirl with a head-nodding chug more indebted to hip-hop than techno or house. The later “Beast” likewise shows off Rone's tougher side, while the project's hip-hop flirtation is rendered most explicit when High Priest (Antipop Consortium) drapes his flow across the hard-swinging “Let's Go,” clearly one of the album's high points.

As the dreamlike “Fugu Kiss” makes clear, Castex often infuses the material with a transporting and ethereal quality without sacrificing its raw, beat-driven attack. His affection for Warp comes through loud and clear in “La Grande Ourse,” whose gleaming melodic figures and children's voices bespeak a heavy Aphex Twin influence. “King of Batoofam” and “Parade” add a more epic tone and luscious quality to the album and in doing so neatly capture the understated grandeur of the Rone style (“Icare,” on the other hand, is so grandiose in design and arrangement, it almost comes across as overblown).

In truth, the range of sounds on the album isn't all that extensive, but Tohu-Bohu never sounds handicapped by its modest sonic palette when it's compensated for so strongly by its rich melodic dimension. Even so, InFiné's releases are reliably high-quality affairs with above-average production values solidly in place, and Tohu-Bohu is no exception. It would be hard to imagine that listeners with an appetite for polished experimental techno will be disappointed by the release.

November 2012