A suite of electronic laments, tone structures and dreamtime rhythms, with a conceptual arc taking in death, life, sleep and religion. Right from Hazyville, Actress’s music has been deeply marked by London’s rave music heritage. But after the angular dynamics of Splazsh, R.I.P heads out into deep space. The rhythms and pulses are smudged or blurred, or are hinted at by their absence. 2-step garage is collided into gamelan, and freeform interludes explore microtonal spaces and imagined string instruments. R.I.P underlines Actress’s reputation as one of the most eloquent voices to emerge from the sub-bass nexus of London dance music. His intuitive and original grasp of beats, textures and rhythm puts him on a parallel path to dance music innovators such as Basic Channel, Burial and Aphex Twin. But the way he engages with electronic sound from first principles, realising his own self-contained sonic worlds, hints at less obvious kinships outside the dance music fraternity, with pioneers of homebrewed sound experiments such as Cabaret Voltaire, Pan Sonic and Oval. It moves the body but the sounds also tap into to something more intangible inside you; you dance, but also ‘slip/drift into another realm, probably without even realising.’
This is the eagerly‐awaited second album by Werk Discs founder and controller Darren Cunningham. Splazsh 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. Determinedly off‐the‐map and resistant to pigeonholing, Cunningham is an enigmatic and playful figure, citing Francis Bacon and Monet as inspirations alongside Theo Parrish, Anthony "Shake" Shakir, Daft Punk, "binary codes and numeral systems," and The Avengers. He's a hard man to pin down -- somehow a key player in the post‐dubstep diaspora and yet not there at all -- but everything comes across in his shape‐shifting, richly-textured music. The South Londoner's acclaimed debut lived up to its name: a series of dream-like sketches and ideas. For Splazsh, the fog has lifted, the sounds are less submerged than before, but still sticky and close -- a signature combination of exuberance and introversion, luminescence and puzzlement. Unconstrained by the formal clichés 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 to grime, 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 flavors of "Casanova," and the stirring, stately "Maze." Actress has quickly and justly become one of the most respected names in the UK's new dance music underground. His own label, Werk Discs, has proven itself one of the most formidable and taste‐making UK independents of recent times, bringing the world extraordinary albums from Zomby, Lukid, Lone and Actress himself. In love with the mysteries of groove and repetition, Splazsh is both a culmination and a new beginning for Actress -- a substantial and eccentric work from a brave and coolly individual artist.
It seems surprising to think that Laurel Halo has actually not released any new music since 2013 single Behind The Green Door. In that time her presence and productivity doesn’t seem to have noticeably dipped, with plenty of live appearances and the like keeping her firmly in the spotlight. As a producer whose sound has morphed across her two albums and 12”s for Hyperdub, the time spent away can only be a promising sign of intriguing new wares to come. Having recently dropped a fine albums from Moritz Von Oswald Trio, DJ Sotofett, and the widely hyped Datura Mystic 12” from Tapes and Wareika Hill Sounds, Honest Jon’s has been on a winning streak of late, and the pace doesn’t seem to be slowing as we lead into autumn. Scheduled for a release later this month, the eight-track In Situ double-pack has been billed by some as a new album, although we’re yet to receive official confirmation. Halo herself, however, has announced the release as “her new record”, and in advance of that two tracks are available to stream below, showcasing a further move into unpredictable, expressive and generally intriguing realms for the Ann Arbor native.
Gatefold double LP version. The Moritz Von Oswald Trio opens a new chapter. There's a new configuration to the project, with Tony Allen joining original members Moritz von Oswald and Max Loderbauer. Allen, the legendary drummer who's amassed a formidable catalog both as a solo artist and as part of Fela Kuti's band, has taken over percussion duties from Vladislav Delay. Together, von Oswald, Loderbauer, and Allen form something close to a dream team, two masters of the electronic sphere meeting an afrobeat pioneer. Allen had already established a rapport with the group before they entered the studio to record Sounding Lines -- he's been touring with von Oswald and Loderbauer for more than a year, playing live shows around the world. There has been an evolution on each new Moritz Von Oswald Trio record, and Sounding Lines is no different. The album, which was mixed by Ricardo Villalobos, maintains the project's trajectory -- a fearless exploration of dub techno, classical music, and jazz -- but the prevailing mood feels looser and more organic than ever before. Allen's imperious percussive work sits tantalizingly in the mix. His drums meet the electronics of von Oswald and Loderbauer in a way that renders the project in new, vivid colors. There are 4/4 tracks, beatless interludes, and complex jazz structures, with propulsive recordings ("3") coexisting alongside more languid moments ("1"). Sometimes Allen provides flourishes of drums (notably on "4") while at other times spectral synths come to the fore (as on "5"). Von Oswald, a masterful composer and arranger with a deep understanding of space, paints the crevices of each composition on Sounding Lines with rich detail. Individually, von Oswald, Loderbauer, and Allen are formidable and hugely influential musicians. As a trio, they've conjured something remarkable. Tony Allen, drums; Max Loderbauer, synthesizers; Moritz von Oswald, percussion sequencing, synthesizers, additional electronics. Artwork by Marc Brandenburg.
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Joseph Abajian (DJ Jab) founded Fat Beats in 1994 with nothing more than a shoestring budget and an earnest obsession with the music, the culture, and the brotherhood of New York’s burgeoning rap scene. What began as a simple vinyl shop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side quickly became an integral hub for artists, both aspiring and established, to convene and collaborate on new projects. Joseph’s timing couldn’t have been more impeccable. When the 90’s cultural zeitgeist – and, in turn, the music industry establishment – chose hip-hop as its new arbiter of cool.
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