Hardcore murky techno producers usually stay a long way away from any kind of narrative, preferring direct sonic stimulation. But Kangding Ray’s new release is something of a concept album, about a character named Corey Arcane. Nevertheless, these productions are still as tight as anything Ray has produced: e.g. very good. On Raster Norton.
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- Cory Arcane by Kangding Ray
8/10 Jim Staff review, 31 October 2015
Some precision engineered techno here on the fifth album from Berlin-based French producer David Letellier, aka Kangding Ray. As with most stuff on Raster-Noton, you get skeletal beats that are clinically edited, eq’d and so sharp that you’d be well advised to keep your face away from speakers in case they have your eye out. There’s an architectural solidity and lack of fluffiness to the tracks here, with everything fitting together like clockwork with absolutely no loose ends. The pulsating rhythmical core of the music is embellished with dark atmospherics and melodies that are like spectral glints ricocheting off the steel-clad beats. Admittedly there’s a lot of similarly brooding, experimental techno around these days, but the quality control here is pretty exceptional by anyone’s standard.
The highlights for me though are those moments interspersed across the album when there’s a kind of melodic transcendence that adds an emotional depth to the hard physicality of the rhythms and cerebral arrangements. For example, check out the expansive melancholic synth melody that slips in under the driving kick towards the end of ‘These Are My Rivers’; like a streamlined throwback to the sleight of hand of early Autechre , with cold, mechanical rhythms opening up into a sweeping lonelsome wilderness of orchestral electronica. Even better is ‘Burning Bridges’, with its spooky percussive resonances merging into a clinically depressed string surge that is engulfed in a flurry of luminous, Seefeel-like tonal shimmerings; a proper hair-standing-on-the-back-of-your-neck moment that took these jaded ears by surprise.
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