Madonna Taps French Musician Mirwais To Co-Produce Upcoming Album

Ray of Light producer William Orbit will share production duties.

Madonna has tapped French musician Mirwais to co-produce her upcoming album, Music, due in September.

William Orbit, who produced Madonna's Ray of Light (1998), will share production duties on the LP, according to the singer's spokesperson, Liz Rosenberg.

Madonna first heard Mirwais, formerly of French group Taxi Girl, when he sent a four-song demo to her Maverick Records label in the fall, Madonna's manager, Caresse Norman, told the Los Angeles Times.

Madonna signed Mirwais, 39, to Maverick and will issue his upcoming album, Production, following the release of Music. Madonna also sings a duet with Mirwais on the song "Paradise," which will be included on both albums. Production was released Tuesday (April 18) in France.

Rosenberg said Madonna's record is near completion and may include an appearance by trance artist Sasha. The DJ/producer — who has issued a number of popular mix CDs, including several with partner John Digweed — joined Madonna in a New York studio in the fall. "There was work done, but no one knows exactly what is going to happen with it. It's still under discussion," Sasha's spokesperson, Stefanie Lees, said.

In the past, Sasha did a vinyl-only remix of "Ray of Light" (RealAudio excerpt of album version), as well as an import-only version of the Ray of Light track "Drowned World/Substitute for Love."

Madonna fans, who embraced the singer's venture into electronic music on Ray of Light, are eager to hear her expand deeper into the genre.

"Madonna staying with William Orbit is a great thing, because he's innovative," fan Rich Vollmer of Chicago said. "His influence, tempered with Madonna's instincts for what the masses want, should garner both critical and popular appeal yet again."

Madonna and Orbit won a Best Pop Album Grammy for Ray of Light and worked together on the hit "Beautiful Stranger" (RealAudio excerpt), from the soundtrack to "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me." The duo collaborated again on two songs for the soundtrack to "The Next Best Thing" — a cover of Don McLean's "American Pie" (RealAudio excerpt) and a ballad they co-wrote, "Time Stood Still."

"I think you could summarize Madonna as 'expect the unexpected,' " Orbit (born William Wainwright) said last month. "She subscribes to the whole notion of 'keep them guessing, keep changing, keep developing.' "

Orbit told that the duo had worked on close to a dozen songs, though her manager told the Los Angeles Times that Orbit produced only three songs included on Music. Norman also described the record as "not as electronic."

"It's funky, with a pop edge to it," he said. "I have heard most of it a lot, and it's something I never get sick of. And there's one song that brings me to tears."

Orbit described Music to last month as "more experimental."

"If you liked Ray of Light, you'll certainly like this one," Orbit said. "It's got this kind of edge to it all. I think it's, in some respects, even stronger lyrically and musically; it's pretty solid. It's a bit more confident."

Orbit released his fifth solo album, Pieces in a Modern Style, in January on Maverick. The record features ambient versions of classical compositions by Antonio Vivaldi, George Frideric Handel, Maurice Ravel and Ludwig van Beethoven, performed with computers and other electronic instruments.

The 41-year-old Madonna (born Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone) praised Orbit's studio prowess in a statement released Jan. 12: "William is a post-modern, 21st-century genius in the world of music. This is only the beginning of his brilliant career. He's a real visionary."

Madonna, who has developed a knack for incorporating the latest trends in music and fashion into her style and making them her own, has racked up dozens of hits as well as nine best-selling albums, beginning with her self-titled 1983 debut.