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ACTRESS

As we all struggle to deal with the sorry state of Earthly affairs, Darren Cunningham answers the Batcall and returns with a brand new Actress LP on usual haunt Ninja Tune. The producer recently resurfaced with his self released mixtape '88', a sparse and stripped back set of low slung house crunch, electro madness and uncompromising techno coated in a thick patina of fuzz and feedback. 'Karma & Desire' then is a comparatively expansive and accessible affair, replete with vocal contributions from the likes of Sampha, Zsela, Aura T-09 and Christel Well.

Billed as “a romantic tragedy set between the heavens and the underworld", the set serves us a string of retro-ist house and techno heaters, balancing a fragile beauty, in the form of soulful vocals or delicate keys, with the grit and growl of hissing drum machines and gnarly basslines. Naturally Darren avoids playing with a straight bat, twisting the traditional styles with the chopped and screwed sound design he excels at. If singles and stompers are your thing, look to "Angels Pharmacy", "Loveless" and the meditative closer "Walking Flames", but really this album works best when enjoyed in its entirety. 


TRACK LISTING

Fire And Light
Angels Pharmacy (feat. Zsela)
Remembrance (feat. Zsela)
Reverend
Leaves Against The Sky
Save
VVY (feat. Sampha)
XRAY
Gliding Squares
Many Seas, Many Rivers (feat. Sampha)
Loveless (feat. Aura T-09)
Public Life (feat. Vanessa Benelli Mosell)
Fret Loose (feat. Christel Well)
Turin (feat. Aura T-09)
Diamond X
Walking Flames (feat. Sampha)

Actress X London Contemporary Orchestra

Lageos

    Following the release of the ’Audio Track 5’ EP and live performances at the Strelka Institute (Moscow), Barbican Centre and Tate Tanks (London), electronic producer and musician Darren Cunningham AKA Actress and the London Contemporary Orchestra (LCO) release a full album of their collaboration on Ninja Tune entitled ‘Lageos’.

    Originally performed at the Barbican in February 2016, the project was curated by Boiler Room and LCO with support from Arts Council England and Ninja Tune. The music created a synergy between both live electronic and acoustic components, not just in the harmonies but in the way the traditional instruments were spliced into new hybrid instruments. As part of the process, Actress and LCO augmented traditional piano and created sounds from objects as varied as temple bowls and plastic bags. The show, a massive sell-out success, eventually lead to the release of this much anticipated album.

    For the album, LCO recorded the individual instrumental parts as stems at Spitfire Studio then sent to Actress to manipulate, in turn delivering some truly unique new pieces. LCO also went on to reinterpret Actress classics ‘Hubble' and ’N.E.W' among others from his catalogue.

    "In many ways the collaboration is about exploring an ambiguity of sound that sits between electronic and acoustic spaces; something that we’re aiming to push further as part of the live shows,” says the LCO’s Hugh Brunt of the collaboration. “For much of the set we look to realize as close as possible the timbres and colours of Actress’ electronics through acoustic means (which he in turn responds to); something of a physicalisation of those synthesized or sampled sounds. That has involved utilizing various accessories: plastic bags (for white noise or to emulate an EQ’d hi-hat); keys; Blu-Tack (to dampen the piano’s upper strings); milk frothers on harp strings, etc."

    The project’s genesis was very much inspired by, as well as performed at, the mecca of brutalism – the Barbican Centre. Iannis Xenakis, a Greek composer and architect who would create buildings to fit his scores, and scores to fit his buildings was an inspiration, Actress and LCO took architectural layouts of the Barbican and created sounds directly inspired by its shapes.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: A less beat-driven adventure for Actress, focusing mainly on the texture and interplay between found sounds and a classical orchestra. Fitting in nicely to his previous dusty electronic workouts, Lageos is a fascinating and impeccably curated suite of brutalist ambience and avant-garde electronica.

    TRACK LISTING

    LAGEOS
    Momentum
    Galya Beat
    Chasing Numbers
    Chaos Rain
    Surfer’s Hymn
    N.E.W.
    Audio Track 5
    Voodoo Posse, Chronic
    Illusion
    Hubble

    Actress X London Contemporary Orchestra

    Audio Track 5

      Everyone's favourite leftfield enigma, Darren Cunningham aka Actress, joined by the London Contemporary Orchestra as they premiere new material as well as expanded arrangements of their dark and brooding back catalogue. Showcased last year at The Barbican Centre London and Strelka Institute Moscow and in conjunction with Boiler Room this 12” release named simply "Audio Track 5" serves as an introduction to a larger body which will be released on Ninja Tune and Boiler Room TV as both a full length album plus live show in August this year. Over a decade of releases Cunningham has built a reputation as a fine creator of cerebral abstract techno, or R&B concrète, crafting pulsing kickdrums, jittering percussion and chopped sample loops into churning, rumbling tracks soaked in static. But he has also been on record saying he wants to make ‘classical stuff for a modern generation’. A truely defining artist, who isn't afraid to push challenging content if it gets his message across clearer, we've been big fans of Actress here at Piccadilly since forever. In this new collaboration, commissioned and curated by Boiler Room and the London Contemporary Orchestra with support from Arts Council England, the London Contemporary Orchestra bring a new dimension to Cunningham’s choice of sounds. With the producer in effect using them as a new instrument, matching his electronic loops with precise manipulation of their acoustic instruments, together they form a heightened kind of chamber music laced with electrostatic interference and DSP nuances. It'll keep existing fans on their toes, which is kinda why we love him! 

      For me, Actress exists in a sparsely populated world of pure muses. Throughout musical history you have people at the very forefront of a generation or culture. Artists who relate to a time and environment rather than appeal to specific genre constraints of an fleeting aspect of club culture. Artists who truly put 'art' before anything else - often challenging the norm and usually way ahead of what the general consensus then later terms as cool. I put Darren Cunningham in this class, alongside Bowie, Kate Bush, Prince, Jamal Moss, AFX, Burial and Madonna. A grand statement I know but as the esteemed producer reaches album number five his artistic focus and future vision is unrivalled. The simplest you could say about "AZD" is that it’s art - the unique creation of a unique mind. There will be few more distinctive, brilliant or visionary suites of music released in 2017. Shimmering through a holographic prism its opening trilogy of tracks shines with new industry and broken societies; mixing dissonance with rhythm unceremoniously. Side B twists and churns through a multitude of audio processes, the very fabric of time space audible as Actress switches our receptors onto maximum sensitivity; offering up two painfully current club cuts in the process ("X22RME" & "Runner"). As side C slide gracefully in with the neo-orchestration of "Falling Rizlas" Actress prepares us for the demonically epic "Dancing In The Smoke" which defies categorization entirely, spinning old school hip-hop vox through an audio spiralizer and swirling metallic washes. Side D opens with the alluring "There's An Angel In The Shower", fluttering electronics gentle serenading us through highly emotive micro-chords. Finally "Visa" sees the Actress depart us in spritely, mischievous form, playful arpeggios rambunctiously motoring away as Cunningham pours hot white noise and electromagnet shards over the recording medium. It's been another awe inspiring, and at time uneasy vision of the future and how it's gonna sound, but Actress welcomes in the new with a wry smile and comforting gaze.



      TRACK LISTING

      NIMBUS
      UNTITLED 7
      FANTASYNTH
      BLUE WINDOW
      CYN
      X22RME
      RUNNER
      FALLING RIZLAS
      DANCING IN THE SMOKE
      FAURE IN CHROME
      THERE’S AN ANGEL IN THE SHOWER
      VISA

      Actress

      Ghettoville - 5xLP Box Set

        Actress’s debut album ‘Hazyville’ will be remastered and released for the first time on white vinyl (with artwork etching on side F) as part of a beautifully crafted ‘Elephant’-skinned box set edition of ‘Ghettoville’, which comes complete with a 40 page artbook, the vinyl format of ‘Ghettoville’, and CD versions of both releases.

        On 2012's "RIP" Darren J Cunningham took a step away from the 4/4s of his early career to explore the realm of dreamlike soundscapes and intangible melody. His latest record, "Ghettoville" sees the producer wake from the dream to find that it's become his reality. The album begins with a thick grime of machinery, occasionally penetrated by dissonant guitar and eerie pads. On "Corner" Actress brings the world into focus. The gangsta rap bassline and keyboard merge with the raw house rhythm conjuring images of burnt out cars and run down buildings. The lolloping beat of "Rims" combines with a rubbery bassline as the raw outsider techno sound becomes possessed by the ghost of bass music past. The gorgeous ambient soundscapes of "Our" and "Time" will seduce fans of Four Tet or (late) Radiohead with their fragile beauty, while "Bircage" sees Actress experiment with new sounds, constructing a primitive tropical drum house track which borders on the Balearic. Club kids needn't fear though, "Gaze", "Skyline" and "Frontline" are raw jackers that'll keep you moving throughout the darkness. "Rap" and "Rule" are the offspring of Hip Hop and RnB after a hefty swig of the 'drank', blurred, slowed down and generally spannered. Indeed the album peaks on the closer "Rule" as Actress fuses the pitched down rap lyric with the keys from "Gypsy Woman" to create a beatdown bomb that any local Detroiter would be proud of. "Ghettoville" is a bold and complex album which sees the different strands of Cunningham's sound pulled together into a dystopic futuristic vision, brimming with ideas and filtered through the producer's unique aesthetic. 

        TRACK LISTING

        'Ghettoville’
        Forgiven
        Street Corp.
        Corner
        Rims
        Contagious
        Birdcage
        Our
        Time
        Towers
        Gaze
        Skyline
        Image
        Dont
        Rap
        Frontline
        Rule

        ‘Hazyville’
        Again The Addiction
        Hazylude
        Doggin’
        Ivy May Gilpin
        I Can’t Forgive You
        Crushed
        Redit 124
        Againlude
        Hazyville
        Mincin
        Green Gal

        Actress

        Ghettoville

          On 2012's "RIP" Darren J Cunningham took a step away from the 4/4s of his early career to explore the realm of dreamlike soundscapes and intangible melody. His latest record, "Ghettoville" sees the producer wake from the dream to find that it's become his reality. The album begins with a thick grime of machinery, occasionally penetrated by dissonant guitar and eerie pads. On "Corner" Actress brings the world into focus. The gangsta rap bassline and keyboard merge with the raw house rhythm conjuring images of burnt out cars and rundown buildings. The lolloping beat of "Rims" combines with a rubbery bassline as the raw outsider techno sound becomes possessed by the ghost of bass music past. The gorgeous ambient soundscapes of "Our" and "Time" will seduce fans of Four Tet or (late) Radiohead with their fragile beauty, while "Bircage" sees Actress experiment with new sounds, constructing a primitive tropical drum house track which borders on the Balearic. Club kids needn't fear though, "Gaze", "Skyline" and "Frontline" are raw jackers that'll keep you moving throughout the darkness. "Rap" and "Rule" are the offspring of hip hop and R&B after a hefty swig of the 'drank', blurred, slowed down and generally spannered. Indeed the album peaks on the closer "Rule" as Actress fuses the pitched down rap lyric with the keys from "Gypsy Woman" to create a beatdown bomb that any local Detroiter would be proud of. "Ghettoville" is a bold and complex album which sees the different strands of Cunningham's sound pulled together into a dystopic futuristic vision, brimming with ideas and filtered through the producer's unique aesthetic. 


          Fear Of Music

          Actor / Actress

            Fear Of Music are Jo Rose (vocals/guitar), Ali Esmaail (bass), Mike Ward (guitar) and Rick Morgan (drums). They formed as schoolfriends, took their name from a seminal Talking Heads album, and together, they're out to give British rock its soul and spirit back, and power up their hometown of Manchester with some rocket-fuel riffs. With the spirit of The Smashing Pumpkins, the screech of Placebo, the scale of (yes) Muse and the conscience of Manic Street Preachers, but also the grace of Jeff Buckley and the hysteria of Pixies, Fear Of Music mine a virgin sound all of their own.


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