Kangding Ray’s last full-length, Automne Fold, was practically glowing with textural warmth. After two years, Dave Letellier’s project returns with a mini EP that is icy cold. Two years is quite a wait in electronic music, particularly as Letellier does not, to this reviewer’s knowledge, produce other work under a pseudonym, as is often the case in this milieu. Yet even in a producer-of-the-week environment, Kangding Ray has staying power, and Pruitt Igoe is the proof.
Named after the ill-fated St. Louis housing projects designed by Minoru Yamasaki of World Trade Center fame, Pruitt Igoe is the perfect project for a neo-industrial glitch outfit. The buildings themselves had a history plagued by architectural and social decay. When they were finally torn down, postmodernists declared their demolition “the death of modernism”. Kangding Ray’s “Rise” and “Fall” are pristine, dark, bricklaying soundscapes that sound like flip sides of the same coin, suggesting an eerie element of determinism to this nonfiction landscape, as though they were edifices designed to fail. While its technically precise sounds are perfectly evocative of utilitarian modernism, the gloomy atmosphere tells of postwar conditions that were prohibitive to the kind of social utopianism championed at the time. What’s more, Letellier couldn’t have chosen a more apt pair of remixers and collaborators than Alva Noto and Ben Frost, two of his greatest contemporaries, who are each in top form for their respective mixes, “Remodel” and “Demolition”. A nearly pitch-perfect short-player.