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kangding ray_vs. special liveset on mnml ssg blogspot.
"Capital burns off the nuance in a culture. Foreign investment, global markets, corporate acquisitions, the flow of information through transnational media, the attenuating influence of money that's electronic and sex that's cyberspaced, untouched money and computer-safe sex, the convergence of consumer desire..."(Don DeLillo, Underworld, 785).
Or... (Kangding Ray, OR, 2011)
When Chris, Cam, Dave and I started mnml ssgs back at the end of 2007, one of the first things we did was formulate a wishlist of artists we'd like to do mixes for us. Kangding Ray was on it. The email went out in due course, and David got back to us, leaving the line open: less than a promise, more than a no. It was tantalising. Three years later, here it is: from our perspective, a patience-ripened mix more than a thousand days in the waiting. What can we say? Kangding Ray has repaid us, with interest, with pure gold.
Those of you who are already Raster-Noton tragics like Chris and I will have noted the emergence of Kangding Ray's work, and with it a distinctive voice that manages to be unlike the others it nonetheless clearly draws inspiration and influence from. For the unfamiliar, a few loose comparisons. There is a strong avant sound design side to his work, making it more in the tradition of 'audible architecture' a la Robert Henke.
But the difference, for me, is a musical quality of composition absent from a lot of Monolake. While hardly songs, Kangding Ray tracks are beautifully wrought arrangements. There is also a definite dark, emotive strain in Kangding's sound, which brings him close to Apparat or Moderat. Again though, this isn't quite right: for me, Kangding Ray shows an admirable restraint that Apparat's full blown 'Ableton emo' often lacks. Finally, there is a highly developed 'sound sculpture' side to Kangding Ray.
This third aspect has really come to the polished fore on the new album. If you checked out the astonishing Pruit Igoe EP last year – without a doubt, one of 2010's best – then this will give you a foretaste. But OR (Gold) is more: this is an album that bathes you in the dark glow of late capitalism, right up to your neck. I'm not bullshitting you, either on the sound side or David's intentions – read about the album here. Hell, buy a copy: this is capitalism, after all. Indeed, consider doing so before the system implodes.
Having said all that, the incredible thing OR is that this isn't some kind of worthy political posturing, or unlistenable, murmuring 'arrhythmic deconstruction of the arrhythmia of the creative destructive heart of capitalism'. It also happens to be an amazingly immersive and listenable album.
I don't want to say too much about the mix Kangding Ray has made for us, because I want to avoid giving your ears strong preconceptions. It's called 'vs', it was made for ssgs – in more ways than one – and it is, in outline, a sublime swirl through a decade and more of heavy memories: his, yours, ours. Like floating through an imploding system. I love it.