Actress | Artist
Ghettoville | Album
Werkdiscs / Ninja Tune | Label
28 January 2014 | Release Date
8.2 | 10
Actress is dead. That much was made clear when Darren Cunningham posted message to his fans that declared the end of his work as Actress. What started in 2008 quickly grew to him having one of the electronica genre’s best albums of 2012 in R.I.P. The ever forward-thinking Cunningham doesn’t use his new, and final, album as Actress, Ghettoville, to offer self-congratulatory compositions, but rather as a way to make the audience beg for more.
Ghettoville has a sound that is wholly its own, while also clearly the work of Actress. Its minimalist values are in-line with his previous work, but the way he goes about connecting the dots differ heavily. Whereas this album’s predecessor glowed and shimmered with a delicate, perfectionist touch, Ghettoville relies on heavy atmospheres and dark sonics. He’s able to make the sound pop with an unexpected liveliness on “Corner,” “Rims” and “Gaze,” while bringing things to an industrial, grinding halt on the devastating opening one-two punch of “Forgiven” and “Street Corp.”
“Forgiven” in particular is a real stunner, setting the tone confidently and assuredly. The track unravels at a glacial pace, creating long stretches of tension with no real release. Altogether, it is one of the most daring and realized works of Actress’ young and vital career.
The album dips in quality during an extended, overlong middle period that drifts without any concrete formation. But the album’s best moments are such towering achievements they make up for the much less thrilling middle section. With Ghettocille, Actress has successfully added a new dimension to his character without lessening the impact of his former albums. For an artist we thought we had a grasp on after three albums, Actress leaves us with a closing statement that makes us question what we thought we knew.