Actress – Splazsh review

Darren Cunningham’s 2008 debut Hazyville was a wonderful journey though a myriad of disparate influences, from Detroit techno to glitchy electronica and dubstep. Here we see the Werk Discs chief revisit some of those influences but also tread new ground with his follow up LP, Splazsh. It’s a startling journey: every track on here is worth listening to, digesting, and listening to again. “Hubble” is a neat way to start, taking off where Hazyville left off with warm, luscious pads buried deep beneath a sea of heavy compression.

“Lost” is one of the more tender moments on the album, with a female vocal draped over a rolling synth line and metallic snare. “Bubble Butts & Equation” would be the perfect theme song should the world come to as sudden and messy end, while “Always Human” has the squelchy leftfield techno sound of Anthony Shake Shakir, with some chopped up R&B vocals and a Space Invaders sample that seems to be Actress’ way of saying, ‘hey I could make a normal track, I just don’t wanna’. Then comes “Get Ohn (Fairlight mix),” which sounds like a Simon & Garfunkel b-side warped to within an inch of its life through compression and layered samples. “Maze” is one of the album’s true highlights, a stunningly simple piece that shows how beautiful electronic music can be when stripped back to its bare bones, while the broken beat of “Purrple Splazsh” once again shows Cunningham’s deft touch with sampling.

Things get more obtuse as the album trundles along, but that only serves to keep the listener engaged. Even the weird, experimental tracks toward the end are deliciously rich and textured, including the superbly titled “Supreme Cunnilingus”.  With so many ideas crammed into 14 songs it’s a wonder Cunningham has ended up with such a perfect little album – often artists suffer from a surplus ideas, but on Splazsh that is not the case. This album could only have been made in 2010 and that, above all else, it what makes Splazsh so special. This is one for the ages.

Review: Aaron Coultate