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Actress: AZD review – a brilliantly twisted, introverted take on dance music | Alexis Petridis' album of the week | Musique Non Stop

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Actress: AZD review – a brilliantly twisted, introverted take on dance music | Alexis Petridis' album of the week

The fifth album from one of electronic music’s most admired producers comes with a lot of high-concept baggage, but the music speaks for itself

Darren J Cunningham cuts an intriguing figure in dance music. He’s not the only former professional footballer to try his hand as a DJ, but the West Brom striker is presumably the first one to subsequently establish himself in the world of cerebral post-dubstep techno. His releases as Actress suggest an artist not at home to the idea of wearing one’s intelligence lightly: he seems to wear his like a hi-vis jacket, with trousers to match. He has made work inspired by Milton’s Paradise Lost and Jamie James’ “anecdotal history of the symphony of science and its counterpoint, the wisdom of music”, The Music of the Spheres. 2014’s Ghettoville arrived accompanied by an epilogue poem: “Spitting flames behind a white wall of silence. The machines have turned to stone, data reads like an obituary to its user.”

For all the reviews that seem to take this stuff at face value – quoting Nietzsche and Heidegger at you and loftily referring to his work not as albums or singles but “audio communions” – there’s occasionally the sense that some of this might be emanating from a man with his tongue lodged in his cheek. In one of his rare interviews, he suggested his working practices amounted to “smoking a lot of weed and seeing what happens”, while tracks bearing names such as Shadow from Tartarus and Uriel’s Black Harp rub shoulders with the noticeably earthier-sounding Doggin’ and Supreme Cunnilingus.

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by Alexis Petridis via Electronic music | The Guardian