Boomkat Product Review:
Actress & the London Contemporary Orchestra surpass expectations with LAGEOS, an ace full length showcase of their endeavours since collaborating on a live performance at the Barbican for Boiler Room in February 2016.
While we weren’t overly fussed with the album’s lead cut Audio Track 5, the rest of the album turns out to be a captivating and variegated exploration of the ambiguities between classical techniques and the electronic timbres and geometries of Actress’ music. They’re certainly not the first to try and reconcile the schism between acoustic and electronic spheres, but the collected results are some of the strongest we’ve heard beyond, say, Mica Levi, in terms of the modern field.
The LCO work at the limits of their perception and extended techniques to interpret as close as possible the timbres and colours of Actress’ electronics through acoustic means, using everything from plastic bags for white noise hi-hats thru to Blu-Tack to dampen the piano’s upper registers. Those acoustic gestures were then reshaped and arranged by Actress, who took inspiration from Iannis Xenakis’ sound for architecture/architectured sound in context of the Barbican, generating 10 uniquely hazy environments.
Two of the tracks are the LCO’s take on vintage Actress cuts, transposing N.E.W. from R.I.P. into the acoustic dimension with sublime effect, and also reanimating Hubble with wickedly keening strings to put a fresh spin a much loved classic. But our favourite cuts are split between those where they get weirder, abstract, as in the gauzy swells of white noise and underwater strings on Momentum or the spiralling, unmetered madness of Galya Beat, and the infectious smudge of electro pulses and phasing rhythmelodies in Surfer’s Hymn, a mesmerising take on Actress’ Panda Bear remix.