Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Actress - Ghettoville (Werk Discs, 2014)

"The machines have turned to stone, data reads like an obituary to its user." This was the press release accompanying this latest and supposedly final album from the brilliant mind of Darren Cunningham. And from the reaction of most fans and critics, the end has come none too soon.

 'Ghettoville' is a bit of a departure from the fun yet avant garde outings of 'Splazsh' and 'R.I.P.' His self-described 'R&B Concrete' as well as his heady lo-fi house jams have been replaced with stark, bleak, and utterly dystopian codes. Some nearly beatless, these intentionally numb melodies are held together by the thread of a drum. This is a laudanum funk, with its soul buried lazily beneath minimal breaks and lackadaisical samples. The dancefloor is still represented. Several four on the floor tracks are present. But this time they feel like a specter. The dust and sweat have long since settled, the dj standing in the booth reminiscing that final night. Ultimately, this just feels like something that would have been cozier over at Modern Love.At first listen, I wondered if Cunningham had a love child with Leyland Kirby and it was just still on the downlow.

 I'm opposed to the critics on this one. Here we have a good final document. Cunningham warned us that Actress was dead. Its possible that after being hailed as a golden child for eight years, Actress has been dead longer than we thought. Though, it didn't seem like it when I saw him perform last year. He killed it, enthusiastically stunning everyone in the crowd. The oh so exhausted one could have fooled me. He seemed to be having the time of his life. Then again, his moniker is / was 'Actress'.


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