Review: Actress – Dummy Corporation EP


More Darren Cunningham “song concepts” on his new acting EP.

Darren Cunningham, aka Actress, concisely described the contents of his seventh album Karma & Desire, explaining that “these aren’t really songs.” What are they then? ‘Song Concepts.’ Oh that’s right.

In the hands of many other artists, muddy thoughts like this would seem cautious at best and pretentious at worst, but in her defense, since the producer first appeared in 2010 with the actress’ nickname Splazsh is characterized by a fluidity of both substance and style.

Dummy company is the first actress EP since 2014, but although the album that preceded it featured a handful of collaborators, much of it seeks refuge this time in eerie soundscapes and wordless ambiance.

Cunningham has been typically philosophical about his conceptual origins, which he says lie in both audio textures and graffiti: “The general idea is that it’s… the art of philosophical action to create modern electronic music… I create these sketches, basically like fabric, and glue them together.

For anyone trying to figure out how to relate the notion of song concepts to a finished track, the titular opening is a helpful start.

For nearly 20 minutes there’s a moody undertone throughout, white noise and understated synth washes reminiscent of Laura Palmer’s spooky prop theme from Twin Peaks before launching into a lo-fi 4/4 trot and later turning into a paranoid acid lick again.

It’s a ride along the permeable boundary between what club life is in fantasy and the haunted hours that follow that are mostly lost, Fragments Of A Butterflies Face driving over cavernous looping bass whose wave seeps under the boards like a hallucinatory silt. Future Spher Techno Version, on the other hand, revolves around a minimalist piano phrase, austere and full of your regrets.

If it conjures up memories that have no place in the throwback, Dream wakes up on the dance floor, his eyes full of strobe lights, feeling the heat and blinded. With a pounding techno beat and a spell-casting robo-diva, it’s its creator who nods Detroit in the most unobtrusive way in years.

But inside, there’s a feeling that it’s not all real, that the ride is somehow counterfeit, even as it rears up in a donkey kick from a final drop; you’re left waiting for a left turn that never comes, orthodoxy’s greatest disguise.

Dummy Corporation is a whole only insofar as each of its disparate pieces emphasizes the power of sound to evoke limitless imagery, a quality less easily conjured in reverse.

The actress continues to be Darren Cunningham’s vehicle for making art out of abstract imaginations, songs a thing that might as well be a dead-eyed bird or hidden at the end of a rainbow. that he knows where.


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