Tag Archive: actress

Actress, Machine And Voice

Earlier this month, the New York Times‘ ArtsBeat blog ran an assessment of the latest Joy Orbison EP in graph form, in which Andrew Kuo mapped his knee-jerk reactions to each of the record’s three tracks, vacillating between breathless Aphex Twin comparisons and “Fatboy Slim Junior” skepticism. Cute, if a little pat, it speaks to the “buzz about the buzz” situation that Joy’s been saddled with, his music discussed more by a watchful but largely disinterested blogosphere than by his ardent fans. A contributor to that record, Actress (Darren Cunninham) is similarly blessed with high expectations, yet he’s bypassed most of the factional fanaticism of electronic dance music and hardly registered with whatever it is that now occupies the district once known as indie rock. Perhaps it’s that his compression-faded, gray-scale sound is too modest in scale, or simply too murky. There are no sinus-clearing swells in Actress’ music; the sensation is closer to the sound of blood rushing through your ears. The man’s no recondite wall flower, though. His debut album, Hazyville, found its way onto quite a few best-of-decade lists, and his tracks have been licensed by Trus’me’s house-centric Prime Numbers, as well as for two Fabric mixes. His latest transmissions have made it easier and easier for me to see what it is that so many find special. His records have a naggingly familiar sound but, at the same time, have trademarked a sound that’s unmistakably “Actress.”

Joy Orbison, The Shrew Would Have Cushioned The Blow

Being the recipient of the unholy amounts of hype the English press loves to dish out must be oddly flattering and scary as hell at the same time. Joy Orbison may well have felt both of those things when his debut release midway through 2009 was hailed as nothing short of sheer musical brilliance. It would be enough praise to potentially leave some producers forever trying to scale the heights of a bar set way too high for them from the outset. Joy Orbison, however, has shown that not only was he worthy of the attention he received (maybe save for quite so many superlatives) but he has more than enough chops to back up a blinding start with a well of equally impressive releases to follow. His remixes of Jose James’ “Blackmagic” and Four Tet’s “Love Cry” both showed that the producer could mine a wealth of melodies and crucial dance floor pressure, whilst his “J.Doe/BRKLN CLLN” twelve proved beyond doubt the original success of “Hyph Mngo/Wet Look” was more of a comma rather than an exclamation point in his career. “The Shrew Would Have Cushioned The Blow” then follows the familiar pathway of warm melodies and R’n’B vocal swatches that have thus far defined Joy Orbison tracks, though both of these elements are underpinned by an almost faultless production style propelling these fairly standard tropes towards the upper echelons of the genre.

Unknown Artist, Freak For You / Point And Gaze

If Beats In Space‘s Tim Sweeney showed up to play your town’s roller rink with his signature blond shag dyed coal black and fresh blood trickling from the corners of his mouth, would you be terrified or freaking pumped at the prospect of pogo-ing to satanic slow-mo disco edits until he had to tuck back into his coffin at dawn? Assuredly, “Freak For You/Point And Gaze,” the latest 12″ from Werk Discs and its founder Actress’s shadowy Thriller imprint, would be at the front of his crate on such a spooky evening.

Actress, Ghosts Have A Heaven

Releasing a gem of an album in Hazyville at the end of 2008 saw Actress (nee Darren Cunningham) passed over for the end of year accolades. But with several tracks from the album turning up on recent releases, the Werks Discs label manager is now receiving some overdue attention. His remix of Various Production’s “Lost” was a gobsmacking foray of compressed, blunted house music while the reappearance of album cut “Crushed” on a recent Prime Numbers sampler drew rave reviews from all who encountered it. Combining a touch of the new with further material lifted from Hazyville, “Ghosts Have A Heaven” will only further the reputation of the less than prolific producer.