Actress is an artist I've always noticed in the record bins I'm flipping through. I knew at some point I would give him a listen. Well, I finally dove into his catalog, starting with this album. It's too early for me to compare with his other work, but off the bat, I am in love with this album. Even more so, what drove me to make a post here is the track "N.E.W." Is there anything more rewarding in life than the discovery of a new favorite song? The kind of work that absolutely burrows its way into your life, leaving you completely mesmerized and shocked that it knocked you off course for that duration. Suspended in some sort of harmonious limbo or purgatory. Unaware of a beginning or end but captivated in the melancholy of now.
Five years later, this one hits me. Another commenter said it's a "listening" album in that you need to sit down and focus on it. I think it is more striking when it creeps up on you and into your subconscious ear. Since there is no normal, pronounced beat, focused listening feels too forced for this one. Your ear needs to lose track of what it expects to hear and some type of distraction helps this one hit on a deeper level of listening.
solid release. great artwork too. anyone got any ideas what the cover look like?? reminds me of something and i can't quite put my finger on it. it looks like those weird shapes that u can make on windows paint..
So it's been just over a year since i bought this last record store day and added the release to the discogs database. Now this album is something that i don't listen to particularly often, but when i do i find myself having to sit down and listen to it from start to finish, often smiling to myself once it has come to an end. To echo previous comments this is definitely a 'listening' album rather than an in-cohesive collection of songs or dj tracks - and a great listening experience at that.
I found a second hand but mint copy of this in my local record shop. Not being familiar with Actress' other work, the one exception being the remix of Panda Bear in Bleep 100 of 2011, I passed it up a few times. But after reading these reviews here I decided it to pick it up and boy am I glad I did. If you take the recent "warehouse" sound where the left-fields of techno and UKG merged a couple of years back, then play through a lens of Basic Channel-esque treatment (fuzz and atmosphere, less is more, implied rather than explicit tempos) then maybe you get somewhere close to what is going on here. And anyone who likes Burial must hear "Caves of Paradise". thank you Actress, and thank you fellow Oggers.
Going into the new album by Actress with certain expectations is a mistake. After Darren J. Cunningham‘s release on Honest Jon’s Records, Splazsh (2010), one may be predisposed to want to hear even more experimental beats paired with, what the current music scene throws under an umbrella term, bass music. Instead, the mysteriously titled third full-length release, R.I.P, offers an almost beatless series of vignettes and possible studies of truly experimental nature. It’s as if Cunningham turned off the beats on purpose. But don’t misinterpret that last statement. The rhythm is still there, lurking just beneath the lo-fi subterranean grimy techno pulse. But the gaping dark hole left by the [seemingly] missing kick drum is sucking in all of the remaining sound, with a gated dynamic thump. The fifteen pieces on the album (ranging from 30+ seconds to 6 minutes in length) all carry a murky atmosphere of slowly molten rubber, as the lazily morphing samples drip and burn through the foundation of each track.
R.I.P is clearly a listening album. One in which you can lose yourself completely, among the psychedelic passageways and semi-liquid builds. The fabric of the structure breathes and sighs, gasping at the organic matter surrounding its boundaries. The induced experience has a potent opiate feel, as your mind struggles to stay focused on the imagined and reality. Inspired by John Milton‘s epic 17th century poem, ‘Paradise Lost’, concerning the story of the Fall of Man (you know, the one with Adam and Eve, the fallen angel Satan, and the expulsion from the Garden of Eden), Actress explores themes of life, death, and religion. These pseudo-concepts are probed through track titles like “Holy Water”, “Serpent”, “Tree of Knowledge”, “Caves Of Paradise” and “The Lord’s Graffiti”. But don’t let these prospects turn you off – if you’re religion-averse, forget about the titles and simply enjoy.
With R.I.P, Cunningham moves even further into the electronic experimental arena, dominated by the likes of sonic architects like Pan Sonic, Oval, Andy Stott, Oneohtrix Point Never, and Demdike Stare. I managed to miss Actress’ performance at MUTEK last year, so I’ll have to make up for my mistake in a few weeks, when he’ll be playing live at Decibel Festival‘s XLR8R Showcase on Friday night, along with Teengirl Fantasy, Gulls, and Shawn Reynaldo. Fans of “perpetually-in-flux-adroit-bass-music” will be delighted with this new direction in the world of post-Burial, post-Zomby, and post-Shed sound. For more experimental beats, be sure to pick up Actress’ debut, Hazyville (2008), released on his very own, Werk Discs.