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Between sleep and the void lies the electronic interzone of Actress. Following the noted 2010 album Splazsh (HJR 049CD/LP) (voted #1 in The Wire magazine's "Top 50 Releases Of The Year") South London producer Darren Cunningham returns with a suite of electronic laments, tone structures and dream-time rhythms which all carry his unmistakable fingerprint. R.I.P. comprises 15 tracks painstakingly crafted by Cunningham in his London studio over recent years, with a conceptual arc taking in death, life, sleep and religion. Right from the debut album Hazyville, Actress' music has carried deep tinges and pockmarks of London's rave music heritage. But after the angular dynamics of Splazsh, R.I.P. heads out into deep space. The rhythms and pulses are smudged or blurred, or are hinted at by their absence. Two-step garage is collided into gamelan, and freeform interludes explore microtonal spaces and imagined string instruments. The fifteen chapters of R.I.P. begin with ascension and the Book of Genesis, played out through gardens, serpents and mythological caves. Appropriately for exploring the myths of creation, the sounds Actress creates are completely sui generis. There are no soft synths or plug-ins, and instead he uses meticulous manual sound-tinkering to create tones, tunings and textures. The ghosted rhythms and free tunings of these tracks live in a parallel universe to the conventional rigors of the dancefloor. Unlike the sterile sound-spaces rendered in so much laptop sound-product, these tracks carry traces of the endless mouse strokes that made them. The album begins with the title track, a short tonal requiem for the dead, before drifting into another beatless meditation, the rippling minimalist structure of "Ascending." "Holy Water" and "Marble Plexus" introduce rhythm, although these percussive tics could be equally sourced from sub-bass speaker stacks or marbles rolling around a bowl. "Jardin" and "Serpent" are origami-like constructions which orbit around what could be pizzicato strings or harps. Last-but-one is "IWAAD," whose pulsing 4/4 rhythms and warm hits of low-end vibration hint at a return to the real. R.I.P. underlines Actress's reputation as one of the most eloquent voices to emerge from the sub-bass nexus of London dance music.
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