Kangding Ray: Monad XI
Stroboscopic Artefacts

The background info on Stroboscopic Artefacts' Monad series is more esoteric than the norm, featuring as it does no small amount of verbiage: “The generation of number series is related to objects of geometry as well as cosmogony. From the Monad evolved the Dyad; from it numbers; from numbers, points; then lines, two-dimensional entities, three-dimensional entities, bodies, culminating in the four elements earth, water, fire and air, from which the rest of our world is built up.” Such conceptual material might have provided Kangding Ray (David Letellier) with ample creative fuel to create the four tracks on his EP (their titles do, in fact, refer to a circle, stork, river, and desert), but the listener needs little more to be won over than the music itself.

Prior to this outing, Letellier issued three Kangding Ray full-lengths on Raster-Noton (2006's Stabil, 2008's Automne Fold, and 2011's Or), so one comes to the EP expecting experimental machine-based music of some high-level vintage and that's exactly what one gets. “Cercle” inaugurates the proceedings with a relentless beat pulse and a generally foreboding ambiance, its surging synths sweeping across the track's rock-hard frame like vultures scanning the ground for prey. Even harder, “Thar” hits with the crushing force of a bulldozer, its pummeling groove coming at the listener in thunderous waves until one is left dizzied by the merciless attack. The third cut, “Oise,” is jacking techno so glacially cold it could freeze a continent or two, while the closing “Isib,” from its intense bass drum thump to its clipped metallic textures, shows that though the Kangding Ray style is severe, its sound design is awesome.

July-August 2012