Splazsh

06.06.10 Words by: Charlie Jones

After crafting ‘Hazyville’, one of the standout albums of 2008 and teasing us with just a smattering of 12”s since, ACTRESS follow up LP ‘Splazsh’ is without a doubt one of the most eagerly awaited albums of the year.

As boss of the Werk Discs imprint, Cunningham has been responsible for some of the most exciting and original music to come out of the bass heavy UK scene of recent years. In chewing up and spitting out the spectrum of British hardcore Werk has also given voice to searing talents such as Lukid, Disrupt and Zomby, whose ‘Were Were U in ’92’ mixtape was arguably the most authentic homage to the Rave era produced to date.

It’s a more mature Actress that takes centre stage on ‘Splazsh’ and this time around he manages to weave much more sex, bump and soul in addition to the rich Detroit-orientated influences which he already drew on for his debut LP. By turns then we hear licks of Prince and Todd Edwards in between the industrial throb of Cabaret Voltaire, the future funk of “Shake” Shakir and Model 500 and the technotic violence of Drexciya.

Actress’ sense of dramatic timing also appears that much keener here than before. On ‘Hazyville’, tracks often seemed to slip away before being given a chance to develop; on Splazsh they are given time to breathe. The result is a more vibrant record that engrosses as well as excites, it being as mesmerising on headphones as it is on big speaker stacks.

Drawing you in with spacey opener Hubble, Actress charts a course between melancholic Casio House (Lost) and wheezing Berghain influenced monsters (Get Ohm) via lo-fi stompers and chunky Detroit yomps (Bubble Butts and Equations / Always Human).

‘Splazsh’ isn’t short on high drama either. Barely at the record’s midpoint, Actress switches the mood dead with the Carpenteresque synthy stalker Maze, only to explode back with the chopped-up new wave funk of Purrple Splazsh. Sling shotting on the back of the up-tempo is the gospel-tinged bumpage of Senorita, the most vanilla flavoured track on the album, swiftly followed by the effervescent above-the-clouds tech frolic, Let’s Fly.

Wrong Potion, with its crashing snares, manic arcade keys and gargling electro bass, is by far the loudest track on the album, ushering in the final act with lilting metallic distortion fest The Kettle Men and the finally the visceral dissonant wilderness of Casanova to close.

The entire record crackles with the vitality of Actress’ squashed basslines, twisted drum hits, esoteric pads and vocal refrains and it’s his dexterity in weaving these disparate disparate elements, without neutering them that is key to Splazsh’s success.

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