It’s been three years since Actress released his last full length Ghettoville, and after what seemed to be a farewell press release drawing a line under the Actress project I’m sure we’re not the only ones who will be glad to receive this news. Seemingly playing round the ideas of language and incoherence his 5th album AZD is incisive and forward pushing as ever.
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You’ve got me out here at the review station reviewing electronic music? You idiots. You stupid idiots. It’s like when you see that one shit guy in the platoon of a war movie. Let’s hope I can ride this thing out on enthusiasm alone, though, because this Actress record is very interesting and extremely lovely -- I’ll say it trumps its interesting content with its lovely content, though, as Actress seems to be navigating ‘AZD’ with the smoothest possible set course. The record fades in and out of its tunes like you’re listening to samples on Soundcloud, taking in its long, looping fantasies and then having them pulled from underneath with a hushed farewell.
It’s weirdly seamless, though, the way Actress moves through these techno environments: like walking from one area of an RPG into the next, the textures change colour but never feel all that estranged. The record opens on a track with looping bassline and sun-beamed synth I’m all too happy to soak in, before kicking in with a bold beat that feels like it’s always been there. Unlike ‘Ghettoville’, with its intentional paradigm shifts, all these tracks feel wonderfully calibrated, their aloof constituent parts happily co-existing in the same place. The patterns of “Untitled 7” all begin unravelled from one another but feel well bonded, while the massively contrasting timbres of “Blue Window” -- a looped minisecond of hiss and a short, sparkly synthline -- both sound symbiotic under their industrial beat.
What am I talking about? I’m not worthy; I’m drinking out of a Ninja Tune mug right now though so please give me a free pass. The more I listen to this record the more I enjoy how streamlined its outer-edges are; it sounds like Actress has been doing a reduction job on his more experimental inclinations, bringing simple patterns and super-brief melodies together and making them relate. There’s still plenty of moments that make me breathless -- like that absolutely gorgeous switch-up on “X22RME”, which sounds like digital glass smashing into pieces under a fog of droney ambience -- but they’re still tethered to formally dance-y tracks. The more I think about this one, the more I 9 it.
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