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Kangding Ray

OR

(Raster-Noton; US: 13 Jun 2011; UK: 13 Jun 2011)

While Kangding Ray’s previous album, Automne Fold, showed Frenchman David Letellier branching out into dark soul and trip-hop along with his standard glitch (and beating Massive Attack at its own game in the 21st century), OR is an exercise in almost robotic consistency.  Although he has changed tactics, his music remains just as sexy and powerful as any Raster-Noton release you could name. A single beat structure winds its way through the whole of OR, with a couple well-positioned breaks—a serpentine pattern of downbeats and upbeats that might be called tribal if it weren’t so steely and tight. The rhythms are tense and propulsive, but not especially fast, suitable for the score to a mid-paced techno thriller. Much of the music surrounding the drums would be better classified as flourishes than actual tunes, though the title track blends paranoid synths with snapping, relentless beat-work brilliantly. The only sinker here is “Pruitt Igoe (OR Version)”; the Pruitt Igoe EP in late 2010 came with four versions of the track, and they all had far more punch. Like Automne Fold, you can’t really listen to OR comfortably in the cold light of day, but it once again makes an excellent case for Letellier’s focus, versatility, and vision.

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Mike has been a staff writer at PopMatters since 2009. He began writing music reviews for his college paper in 2005, where he cut his teeth as an arts editor and weekly columnist. He graduated from Vassar in 2008 and is pursuing a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. He is currently writing his dissertation on the role of rejection sensitivity in online infidelity, and lives with his incredible girlfriend in a wonderful shoebox apartment in Washington, DC.


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