Actress - Splazsh (2xLP)
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.