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iTunes Review

It doesn't take long for Actress' third album to start toying with your head: only a few seconds, really, as the title track massages your brain stem and sidewinds across your speakers. And with that, we're in uncharted territory, caught in a vapor-trailed void between the outermost realms of electronic and experimental music. Darren Cunningham wouldn’t have it any other way. The song titles and press release for R.I.P. present it as a heady meditation on mortality, the Book of Genesis, and the producer’s twisted version of Plato’s cave. At least that’s what we think it’s about. Yet even if you don’t look at the record’s 15 very different chapters as a sample/synth-driven dissertation, it holds together as a fascinating blend of gauzy house grooves, stark minimalism, static-dredged IDM, extraterrestrial techno, and all-too-brief interludes. Get lost; you’ll enjoy every minute of it.

Customer Reviews


Actress is a genius. 'nuff said.

for hedz

this album reminds of early stuff on the mille plateaux label. truly an atmospheric electronic album which emphasizes brain not womp womp braun.

Headphone Commute Review

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.


Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s

The alias of Wolverhampton, England-based producer Darren Cunningham, Actress was credited with some of the least predictable, categorization-defying electronic dance music of the 2000s. Since debuting in 2004 with the No Tricks 12" on his own Werk Discs label, Cunningham juggled a diverse array of inspirations -- including early-'80s funk and electro, art rock, raw and classicist house, and noise -- while putting a fresh, challenging spin on them. As a result, his productions confounded some DJs...
Full Bio
R.I.P., Actress
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