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Actress – Rainy Dub review

Seemingly intent on keeping a captive following guessing, Actress has spent much of 2011 merely hinting at what his next substantial move will be. Those who follow his obtuse Twitter feed will no doubt have basked in the free sonic experiments he’s left as a digital trail over the past few months, whilst there have been some intriguing remix commissions along the way (a sonic dissection of New York’s Laurel Halo in particular resonates still). Of course there has been a drip feed of original material this year too, with a decidedly swampy contribution to the NonPlus canon complemented by what was revealed to this website as a personally illuminating experience in Africa recording as part of the DRC album for Warp.

That wait is of course drawing to a close with the recent news that Honest Jon’s will release the third album from Actress, further strengthening the relationship that commenced when the label released his second album Splazsh in 2010. An advance chance to bask in the possibilities of how the as yet unnamed album will sound is afforded with this sonically challenging but quite excellent twelve inch. There is plenty to admire here, with the lead track described quite presciently by the label as the “alien son of Sleng Teng”. Just like that riddim pioneered a new wave of digital dancehall when Wayne Smith joined forces with King Jammy on “Under Me Sleng Teng”, “Rainy Dub” seems to signify a concentrated shift in focus towards ever new jagged dissections through the fuzziest extremes of sub bass. Minute attention to detail such as the near indecipherable vocal gurgles trapped far beneath ensure you keep returning to the track as new sonic elements come to light.

“Faceless” creeps towards you like second album highlight “Purple Splazsh” regurgitated through a robotic variant of the human centipede, with the track’s hazy melodic elements desperately trying to claw through the claustrophobic rhythms, creeping corroded textures and rising gurgles of stomach acid. It would be churlish to presume how that forthcoming album may sound on the basis of “Rainy Dub” and “Faceless” as neither will be present on it, but both tracks show one of the UK’s most interesting musical talents in uncompromising form.

Tony Poland