French producer Rone released his new album Room With A View. His fifth to date, it is his most complete and resplendent yet. It is built around beautiful, soaring and hopeful melodies that move with grace and style. The album was presented alongside a ballet show at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, which provides the sort of visual concept of what you should expect from how the tracks sound, even if they are often beatless or if the percussion plays secondary to strings, synths and piano.
Instead of trying to dive further into the album myself, we asked Rone to give us more background on the record, track-by-track for a new Director’s Cut feature. Read on as he breaks down each track and get your copy digitally or in a physical format here. There are sections of the album in French, which include people talking about humanity's impact on the environment.
1. Lucid Dream:
A gentle introduction to the album. I wanted to translate the feeling of a lucid dream, that sensation you get when floating between dream and reality, when you realize you’re starting falling asleep and it’s still time to control the dream and take you wherever you want.
2. La Marbrerie:
The title is French for "Marble workshop.” The show I played with dancers at Théâtre du Châtelet (right before the lockdown) takes place in a marble quarry, a place that depicts the influence of men on nature. From a block of marble one can make a magnificent sculpture, or a tacky bathtub… For “La Marbrerie” I tried to sculpt a beautiful and airy landscape to set the tone of the album.
“La Marbrerie” also happens to be the name of the place where I have my recording studio. The place also hosts a restaurant, bar and concert venue.
3. Sophora Japonica:
It’s the Latin name of a wonderful tree I saw in the garden of writer George Sand’s house where I spent some weeks to record the album. The house is also the place where classical composer Frédéric Chopin wrote two thirds of his pieces. It felt like Chopin’s ghost was around and helped me come up with the track. I wanted to keep the track pure and not over-complicated, I like the sound of those notes popping around like little bubbles.
4. Ginkgo Biloba:
It’s one of the first tracks I composed for the album. When I was staying at George Sand’s house, the internet connection was very bad, so I wasn’t distracted by the “outside world.” I spent most of my free time in the wonderful garden, watching birds and trees to clear my mind. That’s when the little melody popped in my head, so I rushed back to my machines to develop the track. I decided to name it after the ginkgo biloba tree, an amazing species that’s 270 million years old! It was there way before the dinosaurs and it will probably still be around after humanity. Amazing.
5. Nouveau Monde:
It’s the first track I made for the album and one of the rare techno-ish tracks. I wanted the mood to take the listener into a sort of trance, emphasized by the speech of writer Alain Damasio and astro-physician and philosopher Aurélien Barrau. It sounds like a mantra and the meaning of their intervention could be seen as a key to decipher the themes I wanted to address in the album: the ecological emergency, global warming and collapse of our society. It could be summed up as follows: there’s a need to imagine a new world (hence the title "Nouveau Monde”) which wouldn’t be dominated by economy and overconsumption. One way to do this is to invent new mythologies, work on symbols, and define a new imaginary. In short, bring sexy into revolution!
6. Room With A View:
That’s to do with our position of observers of the world. It could be the view through our living room window during lockdown, but it can also be the window of our computers and smartphones, the bombardment of information for better or worse. What do we do with all that info? “Room With A View” is typically the kind of track that I made at dazzling speed, without thinking, just sitting in my sofa playing around with my computer...
7. Le Crapaud Doré:
While playing around with a synthesizer I came up with this sound close to the harpsichord. It started as a joke but then I decided to take it seriously and counter-balance the baroque side with electronic sound. I wanted past and future to clash.
Le Crapaud Doré is French for the Golden Toad, apparently the first species to have disappeared due to global warming, so this is my ode to this extinct species.
8. Liminal Space:
Something is called liminal when it’s at the limit of perception. It’s a very subtle moment, the emission just has to be slightly amplified for our senses to receive it. The track digs in the darker side of the album, in the show at Theatre du Chatelet it’s the moment when a cave collapses. I needed that darker moment in order to follow up with a more solar moment.
It’s my track about human beings: strong yet vulnerable, beautiful and horrible, good and bad. A sort of hand in hand communion, like a big prayer saving us from extinction. I don’t like hearing people say that human beings are stupid, I like to think that even the biggest asshole has a good side, but that he or she just took a wrong path at some point. Like Voltaire said “Men aren’t bad, they just become bad like they caught a disease.”
The track started off by a little electronica loop, then I wanted to add a human presence, that’s when I decided to record an improvised choir with the 18 dancers I was working with. I wanted to make the track sound ample, epic, like large countryside landscapes.
I wanted to translate an energy, a feeling of urgency just with organic sounds of violins and synthesizers. The first demo had a cinematic side to it that I liked, but it was when I took part in the first rehearsals that I understood the direction "Babel" was going to take. It marks a transition in the narration of the show, the passage from a slow and hard moment to a solar moment, a positive energy where the bodies rise up in an anarchic and combative movement.
With "Esperanza," I wanted to make a track that would be solar and optimistic, which lift you, encourages you to rise, to fight, to see things in a positive light. I see this as a little spark that can restart a nearly extinct fire. During the intro one can hear the footsteps of the dancers of the Ballet National de Marseille walking in rhythm and giving a quasi-military pace to the track. I like the fighting spirit this pace gives the track.
With the current crisis, we hear a lot that the world will never be the same. I agree with this sentiment and hope sincerely that a better world can come out of it. "Esperanza" is my tribute to this army of salvers, those who are fighting for a better world.
The title is a French contraction between “rave” and “rêve” (dream). It’s when music brings you into a sort of trance and opens new doors of perception. It’s probably the dark counter-side of the track “Nouveau Monde,” it’s going in a kind of hypnotic trance that could last forever. The show at the Theatre du Chatelet starts off with a 30-minute version of that song. When I composed the album, I made different versions of 8 and 12 minutes. I like the feeling of losing the landmark.
Solastalgia is a state of distress caused by deep environmental changes; it’s a sort or eco-anxiety. Some people feel helpless and start suffocating seeing the world fall apart. Solastalgia goes hand in hand with collapse theories. Some people think, “the place where I grew up and where I want my kids to grow up is falling apart, and there’s nothing I can do about it.” Solastalgia usually translates by sadness, anxiety, insomnia, anorexia or depression.
When I recorded the choir for “Human,” the voice of one of the dancers stuck out. It inspired me to do a track in the vein of Brian Eno or Cliff Martinez. I wanted a mix of softness and the nostalgia of disappearing nature, Myrto’s voice sounds like a mystical communion with elements, like she’s communicating with another dimension. I wanted to close the album on a soft note, leaving the interpretation to the listener: is it sad or positive?