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Monday
Jul252011

Kangding Ray - Or

Raster Noton

 Berlin resident David Letellier uses his Kangding Ray moniker to make dark, textural music. In an electronic music landscape already well populated with dark, textural music, though, can Letellier’s brand of architectural quasi-glitch-meets-pseudo-dubstep stand out? The answer, on the new Kangding Ray album “Or,” is a resounding: “sort of.”

Like so many other German-based artists, Letellier displays great attention to detail. Every sound is meticulously crafted, shaped and processed. But despite some heady atmospherics and clever sound manipulation, other aspects of “Or” sound too crafted, too precise and too digital. This might be in the zeitgeist these days, but it can get annoying.

And that’s how things start. Opening tracks ‘Anthem’ and ‘Mojave’ are not particularly memorable, and suffer from all the aforementioned problems. It’s not that they’re bad; they’re just, well, a bit like an attempt at Kafka that goes all Stephen King. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just not Kafka. After that, “Or” moves on to better pastures. The syncopated drums and growling synthscapes of ‘Odd Sympathy’ resonate with post-apocalyptica. ‘Pruitt Igoe,’ named after the infamous, now demolished St. Louis public housing tract—widely considered to be one of modern history’s great failed social and architectural experiments—is even better. Like it’s namesake, the song is haunting and tragic.

 

Title track ‘Or’ is also worth a listen, redeeming an early flirtation with sci-fi video game soundtrack aesthetics by way of a heartfelt synth melody deep with longing and imagination. This quality sequence ends with the odd, but somehow compelling ambient track ‘Mirrors,’ which crescendos dramatically with the pads sidechained under a kick drum with the gravitational pull of a black hole. The bottom half of the album is mostly populated by the mundane and forgettable. However, there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on in “En Amaryllis Jour,” and album closer “La Belle” provides more of the desolate romanticism on display earlier.

So is “Or” for you? If you’re really into self-consciously dark music, like Coil, Burial or Luka Baumann, then the answer is probably “yes.” If you’re only into these kinds of things when they’re very good, like me, you might pick up a few of the album’s high notes, and skip the rest.

Gustav Brown

 

Reader Comments (1)

I think Bleep 43 is the only one electronic music website I always agree with. Once again, I listened to this album enough to understand it was too serious and, though, boring (like Burial, indeed). These guys seem to suffer from a certain lack of humor, not to say they take themselves far too seriously.
To me, Com Truise's album is a very good example of music that can be at the same time melancholic, joyful, fun, creative, and kind of pop (I mean understable), which tends to be rare these days (or am I already an old man?).

August 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdamien

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