Actress – R.I.P

Some time ago Ben and I returned to my flat after a few beverages in London town. I whacked on the new 12″ I’d just bought, hoping for the approval of a seasoned musician. In the event, the response to Actress‘ Rainy Dub was more anger than approval; how can such a simple, repetitive rhythm go on for so long? And why?

But I have a massive soft spot for the current wave of 80s sci-fi inspired sound. Take Symmetry’s Themes for an Imaginary Film; 36 tracks spanning almost two hours and rumoured (incorrectly) to have been the original sound track for Nicolas Refn’s cult hit Drive. Symmetry’s Themes ebbs and flows, pulsating one minute and introspective the next, the perfect accompaniment to a rocket trip to outer space (if you’re heading that way). Anything by film-maker John Carpenter also works; take the title theme to Assault on Precinct 13 with it’s minimal, early electronica synth melody, thudding base drum and lo-fi snares.

This film score sound is what Actress delivers on so effectively. Darren Cunningham strips back anything extraneous and lets sounds cascade in, blend together and develop their own character – sometimes over almost 9 minutes as with the intergalactic, Detroit-inspired Hubble from his overlooked 2010 LP Splazsh. Whereas that LP showcased Actress’ ability to make deep, 3am dancefloor rollers, RIP is more filmic and ethereal. Jardin is a wandering, landscape-conjuring theme, with gentle keys and background static that reminds me of Minority Report’s 3D holograms and their faithful, if glitchy, reproduction of reality. Marble Plexus stomps along with a coarse, shuffling patchwork of sounds, a new hook unveiled on each listen. And with N.E.W., a drum-less drift into solar systems beyond our ken, Actress demonstrates his ability to create filmic masterpieces that are crying out to be showcased in a sci-fi epic.

Immerse yourself in Actress’ work – especially in the divisive Rainy Dub – and you will prosper.