Kangding Ray
Solens Arc


4.0
excellent

Review

by ComeToDaddy CONTRIBUTOR (44 Reviews)
October 7th, 2014 | 23 replies


Release Date: 02/24/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: What lurks beneath the depths?

The popularity of media that induces unease in the consumer is a strange phenomenon. Many go out of their way to consume these; video games like Amnesia, series like Friday 13th, musicians like Lustmord and Akira Yamaoka, all present their respective media with a menacing aesthetic that horror-lovers crave. Solens Arc conveys itself in a similar manner. A tangible feeling of uncertainty and fear pervades the albums runtime, and this invokes surprisingly vivid imagery for such a relaxed music style. It’s like you can’t quite see into the darkest street corners, or the creatures lurking just deep enough to avoid sighting. David Letellier manages to maintain this atmosphere from start to finish, and this suspension of tension allows Solens Arc to stand out as unique and engaging.

Many albums that are this heavily reliant on atmosphere will not have the strict over-arching structure that is employed here, which in this case acts as both a boon and a detriment. The release is separated into 4 distinct arcs, consisting of 3 songs each, and these arcs adhere to a very specific style in order to contribute to the albums flow. We open with the trepidatious first arc, beginning with ‘Serendipity March’. After spending a minute on meandering ambience, we are treated to the first inklings of Kangding Ray’s sound; with rumbling static and a breathy vocal sample that lurk behind a heaving bass line, the track barrels forward, weaving in moments of abrupt silence that last just long enough to discomfort the listener before diving back into the deep end. Segueing into ‘Evento’, we get a driving percussive backdrop rise to the surface from the loose ambience of the interlude track. Once this beat has become the focal point, disharmonic synths weave in and out of view, adding a healthy dose of panic to the track. While never coming to a climax, it sets the first arcs pattern of lightly stepping around your peripherals and jumping from one idea to the next, and this unpredictability makes the first arc a definite standout.

The second arc is far simpler, with fewer ideas floating around and a greater commitment to fleshing them out. ‘Blank Empire’ follows a similar pattern to the third track, but has interludes on both sides to help ease the listener in and out of the centrepiece. This makes it a more singularly satisfying experience than the songs prior, but there’s just not enough substance here to warrant a twelve minute arc. The third arc is far more distant, with the bass kicks feeling muted, synths whirring around with no direction and a general feeling of detachment emanating from the music. Even ‘Amber Decay’s driving beat has no impact when following the crisper kicks and melodies found in the preceding two arcs. The final arc is the first time the music truly loses form and is given space to flow freely, untethered by the restraints that hold back the rest of the album. With no discernible structure, the music ebbs and flows through its movements and loops with more grace than the rest of the album, a format which brings out the best in Kangding Ray’s sound and helps make this arc the most engrossing of all.

While the strict structure and almost forced progression don’t suit his musical style perfectly, Letellier has managed to craft an enjoyable album with a steady hand. The cohesiveness gives the album definite purpose and direction that would have been lost with the addition of unpredictability, and this contributes to the albums replayability. There’s enough negative space here to make it slide into the background comfortably, but enough depth to avoid disappointing a careful listener. There are moments of true brilliance hiding in amongst all the layers, but Solens Arc doesn’t quite manage to fit the pieces together. Despite these niggling flaws, it is a captivating ride from start to finish, traversing several different styles of IDM and techno to create one of the better electronic albums 2014 has to offer.



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user ratings (22)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyOnTheSpot
Contributing Reviewer
October 6th 2014


3557 Comments


pos. good review man, I'll give it another read through later but it looks good, nice work. I'll definitely check this one out

ComeToDaddy
Contributing Reviewer
October 6th 2014


1076 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Would really like some constructive criticism with this one, haven't reviewed an album like this before and I struggled with it a lot.



Anyway, this was a great album, grew on me with successive listens and it's probably sitting somewhere in my top 20 for the year.

Digging: Haruka Nakamura - Twilight

ComeToDaddy
Contributing Reviewer
October 6th 2014


1076 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Johnny, I haven't had much time on here lately but I'll spend a couple of hours catching up on reviews that I missed. Any big recs I should check out?

ExplosiveOranges
Contributing Reviewer
October 6th 2014


4271 Comments


Was thinking about reviewing this at some point, but you did it justice. Good job. Pos.

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Contributing Reviewer
October 6th 2014


3557 Comments


@daddy - meh. I guess check my last couple reviews lol, those are the big ones for me lately. I'll give your review a solid read
through in a bit though, but it looks fine from the first skim-over

ComeToDaddy
Contributing Reviewer
October 6th 2014


1076 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I enjoyed Winged Victory's s/t, even if I found it a tad overrated. I'll check out that new one for sure.



Thanks Oranges (:

Phlegm
October 7th 2014


7140 Comments


FUK nice one comeTO DaddDDDy hahaaaaaa

Zettel
October 7th 2014


606 Comments


I had forgotten this was actually released early this year. This is a pretty good album. Coincidentally, I listened to it pretty heavily last week. Was not aware of the "arc" within the album, it is interesting to learn about it. I like how Kangding Ray manages to develop this sound after each release.

Pos'd.

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
October 7th 2014


19686 Comments


good album, its grown on me since i first heard it

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
October 7th 2014


19686 Comments


amber decay is one of my favorites of the year for sure

djunior
October 7th 2014


860 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

good to see a review for this. pos

ComeToDaddy
Contributing Reviewer
October 7th 2014


1076 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah this album definitely gets better the more you listen to it. History of Obscurity has become my favorite, but Amber Decay is a close second

Pestiferous
October 17th 2014


1352 Comments


gooooood stuff for sure


youvegotredonyou
October 23rd 2014


32 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review, good album. Love the cinematic vibe you get with this guy.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
October 23rd 2014


23646 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Liked this a lot on my first few listens but haven't listened since.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
October 23rd 2014


23646 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hey now I don't mind beats in my ambient sometimes.

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2014


19686 Comments


yeah this is really growing on me

turning into one of my favorites of the year

Essence
December 8th 2014


3680 Comments


this album is fantastic

Cygnatti
January 5th 2015


26441 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

album is yes

Digging: Elysia Crampton - American Drift

treeqt.
January 5th 2015


14846 Comments


more like a maybe

Digging: Ghosts of Dance - The Complete Ghosts of Dance



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