I have always been drawn to the thugged-out fog of Darren Cunningham‘s music. Obtuse yet rounded, harsh but soft, his world of sound is part of a universe where nothing is quite as it seems. When I listen I find myself transported to the aether, where grain and grit clog my minds eye and time itself congeals around me. Actress is, to my mind, as close to psychedelic as electronic body music gets.
As I find myself pulled to the deepest recesses of my consciousness, I resist my usual urge to pick the music apart, to try and understand how it is made. I don’t meditate and I am only vaguely aligned with the cosmos, but I most definitely feel the tractor beam-like pull of some “other”. I don’t believe in ghosts, but I believe ghosts exist in the music of Actress. The specter that haunts with a muffled vocal snippet here or a snatch of a few A chords send a chill up my spine, but like a favorite horror film or desolate place, the brood and menace only serve to warm my heart.
R.I.P. has been described as the most coherent Actress album to date. I concede that’s true. But do not confuse coherent with accessible. Spine tingling hooks (of a sort) such as on ‘Maze’ or the Prince-sampling ‘Purple Splazsh’ are few and far between. The trajectory here feels more linear, the layers of static that conjure images of a clouds interior feel thick and dense. To say that R.I.P. is greater than the sum of it’s parts seems too trite, though I struggle to find a more succinct metaphor for music that moves me very deeply in ways that are not easy to explain. I don’t think the title is abstract. This feels like the final exploration, a last dive to the cultural titanic of rave culture. What comes next will be very intriguing. In the meantime, I recommend you reacquaint yourself with the story so far before giving this album your full attention.
Actress – R.I.P. (preview)