Since his rise to prominence in 2008, Darren Cunningham has delivered three of the most lauded and analysed albums of modern times. His high-profile DJ admirers include Tiga and Simian Mobile Disco, with even the often-critical Autechre duo recently stating their appreciation for the Actress’ work. Despite this widespread recognition, the cryptic and doom-laden release notes presenting ‘Ghettoville’ suggest that this will be the conclusive chapter of the Actress legacy. Originally planned for last summer, the enigmatic Londoner’s fourth long-player is – as speculated – the sequel to his debut album, ‘Hazyville’.
Subsequently, the freeform scores of 2012’s ‘R.I.P’ are suspended to reinstate the suction-filtered production of old, but ‘Ghettoville’ is much starker than his early designs. With Cunningham’s signature glitch ’n’ jack limited to just two tracks (‘Frontline’ and ‘Skyline’), ethereal myriads of sound-sculpture provide a common musical thread. The deconstructed hip hop of ‘Corner’ and ‘Rims’ provide direction to a granular start, before ‘Birdcage’ and ‘Gaze’ give the mid-section a smart, East Coast house dynamic.
This US vibe is carried into the close, with ‘Image’ essentially being a boogie cut – and a great one at that, while ‘Rap’ and ‘Rule’ both brilliantly carry the spirit of 90’s G-funk. At times dark and dour, it’s hard to tell if ‘Ghettoville’ will be the Actress release most recall in years to come: bettering his peerless output so far was never going to be easy. Still, should this be the final curtain for Actress – and as the triple LP and press release attest, this does look like the last episode – then this apocalyptic omen does defiantly bring one of electronic music’s most compelling discographies to a fittingly gritty and granular end.
File under Ghost haus
Download ‘Image’, ‘Gaze’, ‘Our’
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