Review: Kangding Ray – The Pentaki Slopes

I can’t quite put my finger on it. There’s something about Kangding Ray that seems to leap out into the physical world without ever actually leaving the techno realm; the bass drum feels more akin to an actual material impact rather than being a mere intangible construction of low frequency, while synthesisers scan the stereo spectrum like strobes, flowing over the music’s insistent tempo and yet still very much dictated by the rhythmic throb from beneath. Somewhere between the quantised data stream and the corporeal the sounds of Kangding Ray are born, existing in some sort of limbo zone of robot flesh and electro-organicity.

Rhythmically, the three tracks of The Pentaki Slopes are more evenly spaced and simplistic than the jittery, multi-layered constructions of OR, making a more explicit nod toward club culture than on the precursory full length. “North” sees astral sirens weaving in between warped bass pulses and the ethereal backlight of choral pads – nudged upward in the intensity gradient by the gradual introduction of recurrent slices of hi-hat – while “South” veers between monotonous low-end buzzes and flickering synthesiser tremolo, threatening to push the listener to the point of exhaustion with its inescapable dancefloor stomp. “Plateau” is the lethargic, drunken segue between them, dragging itself between spindly palm muted guitar and humid bass drones. The overall impact is more direct when compared to previous Kangding Ray material, replacing OR’s desire to slink into the ears with a hypnotic, no-nonsense march that sends the ground beneath the listener’s feet into convulsion.