RNL – Conquering King Kong

4.3.20 by Ryan Masteller

Look, I’m not up on my Kong lore (that whole narrative just doesn’t do it for me), but wasn’t King Kong a misunderstood animal that was captured, removed from his home, and transported to New York City for the entertainment of rich white jagbags? That doesn’t really sound like a thing I’d want to “conquer,” but I guess if the gigantic ape functioned more as a metaphor for seemingly insurmountable life obstacles, then it makes a little more sense. Still, I feel really bad for that monkey. He had it so unfair.

I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise for me then that the idea of “Conquering King Kong” really does serve as a metaphor here, as RNL, aka Berlin-based Jesse Farber, has dug through archives of material he recorded as far back as 1984 and as recently as 2019. What better way to process the passage of time and the buildup of psychic baggage than by sifting through the past and processing it (sometimes to an insane degree) until it all makes sense to you in the present in some form? That’s what Farber does: he tackles the King Kong of his past and wrestles that great beast to the ground until he can live with it.

You hear that, naysayers? He COMES TO TERMS AND LIVES WITH the monkey. Poor movie monkey, shot down by helicopters and whatnot.

“Conquering King Kong” itself is a fascinating listen, as the tape is split into two lengthy suites with an intermission (“Interregnum”). “Eyeholes” begins with some excellent drone before it builds in intensity and volume, finally dropping out and breaking into warped rhythmic passages, finally ending on spectral ambience. “Chopping Off Every Finger” drops right into the rippling ambience, processed sound sources spiking and receding, then drifting through the ghosts of sonic architecture. Speaking of ghosts, digital squirts appear through a digital mist by the digital end, sounding like Pac-Man’s nemeses on the prowl.

RNL sounds like he’s conquered his past, his “King Kong,” by the end of this tape. Now let’s just hope he doesn’t get marooned on Skull Island for any length of time. 

“Conquering King Kong” is available in an edition of 100 from RNL / VONCONFLON.

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