A quick look at the cover art for Imagination Never Fails might leave you wondering if it’s the score for another B-movie beacon from Mandy director Panos Cosmatos. The visuals are a nostalgia trip in every sense of the word, steeped in shades of crimson and psychedelic excess.
Erang doesn’t really walk in other people’s worlds, though. For nearly a decade now, the French composer has followed his own flights of fantasy. There’s a name for it, actually: the Land of the Five Seasons, a self-contained universe complete with its own recurring characters and kaleidoscopic scenery. Erang even made a map of the place, including such RPG-style destinations as The Dark Dungeon, The Enchanted Woods of Mayoo, and Arakno Kastle.
More than two years separate Erang’s new record from the nightmarish Western Endless Realms and Nostalgic Gods. That may not sound like a long time, but the 17 albums that came between beg to differ.
To help set Imagination Never Fails apart from his previous widescreen productions, Erang wrote the short but expansive record as the opening salvo in his sixth (sixth!) distinct song cycle. Known as The New Age, it’s the beginning of a concerted break from the Land of the Five Seasons—one that was loosely inspired by the brash animated films of Ralph Bakshi (Wizards, Fritz the Cat, a grim Lord of the Rings adaptation The New York Times called “both numbing and impressive”).
“The ’70s has a special ‘grain’ all over it, visually and musically,” Erang explained via email. “I really thought about [the album] from a ‘cinematographic’ point of view—like some kind of movie.”
More like an anthology—a patchworked procession of video tape vignettes, guided by ghostly voices and grand melodies. More than just a dungeon synth musical, it alludes to everything from blotter paper ballads (“Long Ago in the Hidden Kingdom”) to techno in a magician’s cloak (“Shipbuilding Music”). The plucked strings and bell tower breaks of “I Am Still Right Here” could even be construed as a sly nod to the Aphex Twin single “Girl/Boy Song”, albeit much slower and Medieval Times-like.
Imagination Never Fails indeed.