Boomkat Product Review:
UK prism pusher Actress draws on game theory and the mindflow of playing chess for a 9th album arguably weighing in as his magnum opus; a masterclass in personalising and mutating classic club brawn and jazz brained electronics for hyper-present futurism.
Now 20 years since self-releasing his first productions on Werk Discs, Darren J. Cunningham is firmly established as the club visionary of his generation. Drawing on the past 40 years of machine made electronic music, his work uniquely binds the timelines of ‘80s electro-soul and its offshoots in R&B, deep house and techno, with a keen experimental bent that never loses sight of music’s potential as sensual dream food and fuel for the ‘floor. Since 2008’s ‘Hazyville’ his albums have always drawn on extra musical influence, from sci-fi cinema to contemporary art, literature and weed, in a holistic way that has eluded many others and has elevated his work in the imagination. On ‘LXXXVIII’ he pulls from a reading of game theory and years of playing chess to imbue his abstract storytelling tekkerz with a certain cadence and timbre of thought that leaves a deep, lasting impression amid so much throwaway and copycat tackle in circulation.
Within 'LXXXVIII's stop/start arrangements and consolidation of myriad circles, he brilliantly emulates the two moves ahead mind-flow of playing chess, while subverting the game theory that drives modern economics for the pleasure of his, and your, leisure. The concept is never overbearing, working equally well on multiple cerebral, physical and emotional levels, but we reckon its diffractive flow and play of contrasting textures are best received in a cloud of silver haze (if that’s you) that aligns with its sprawling rhizomatic logic.
Lurching into being with the Theo Parrish-meets HTRK-in-South London swag of lead single ‘Push Power ( a 1 )’, the album consistently plays into and short circuits expectations on a course from the avant steez of ‘Hit That Spdiff ( b 8 )’ to semiconscious melody of ‘Azifiziks ( d 8 )’ via nudging calls to dance in the deep electro-house inception of ‘Azd Rain’ or the skull-scraped warehouse reminiscence of ‘Memory Haze ( c 1 )’ or ‘Typewriter World ( c 8 )’ evoking the thrust of his earliest work on ‘Hazyville’. Together with a singular spin on modern drill/R&B modes on the title track starring Sampha, and his frayed, crispiest Thriller era loops squashed into ‘Its me ( g 8 )’, or the lowkey breathtaking technological compressions of ‘Green Blue Amnesia Magic Haze ( d 7 )’, it’s yet another richly memorable dream sequence by one of the most trustworthy artists out there.
Text your guy and make some time for this one.