- Kangding Ray's first full-length for Stroboscopic Artefacts, Hyper Opal Mantis, continues to explore David Lettelier's concept-informed take on techno. It further explores a sense of crisis established by his last album, 2015's Cory Arcane, in which an unstable protagonist contemplated "the crumbling of a system." Hyper Opal Mantis examines similar themes of technology, communication and capitalism in a three-part narrative that describes three types of desire: "primal, sensual lust," "emotional catharsis, a blissful desire for love" and, in a reference to the praying mantis of the album's title, "destructive, fatal attraction."
There's an urgency to much of Hyper Opal Mantis. Its crunchy basslines seem to search for resolution. "Purple Phase" is one of the album's more elegant tracks, with an emotional melody that gently raises your heart rate. In the same way, a looping synth line in "Saudade," which sounds like a sample from an epic movie soundtrack, gives a sense of something about to start, but never quite beginning. For the most part, though, the album bears its teeth—the flinty acid of "Outremer," the rasping bassline on "Epsilon" and "Soul Surfing"'s drone layers convey a measured aggression.
As an electronic medium adept in emotional and physical manipulation, techno, Letellier suggests, is an "act of resistance" in an increasingly disconnected world. Hyper Opal Mantis also aims to express more immediate emotions. The album's narrative thrust doesn't always strike true—it's unclear how "destructive, fatal attraction" translates on, say, "Saudade"—but Letellier has a surer grasp of the basics at which he excels, techno that's both thoughtful and primal.
02. Lone Pyramids
04. Purple Phase
06. Soul Surfing
08. Onde Mantis