Actress – Splazsh
Darren Cunningham’s second album is an adventurous, ultra-modern, thoroughly British affair, rummaging about in the inner lives of house and techno, and brilliantly elaborating the accomplishments of his debut, Hazyville.
With Splazsh the fog is lifted, the sounds less submerged than before, but still sticky and close — a signature combination of exuberance and introversion, luminescence and puzzlement. Unconstrained by the formal cliches of the dance music he loves, Actress’ melodies and arrangements are enthralled by their own genies. Worlds of disturbance and melancholy revolve giddyingly inside the insidious funk of tracks like Get Ohn and Lost. A range of musical influences is redrawn, from speed garage (Always Human) to grime (Wrong Potion), with none crowned king. There is a reflectiveness — the ambient drift of Futureproofing, the radiophonic judder of Supreme Cunnilingus — in amongst the industrial, synth-wave flavours of Casanova, and the stirring, stately Maze.
In love with the mysteries of groove and repetition, Splazsh was both a culmination and a new beginning for Actress, a substantial and eccentric work from a brave and coolly individual artist.