Words About Music
British producer Actress, a.k.a. Darren Cunningham, has been producing eerie beat music pretty much ever since Burial stopped releasing full length albums. While this hasn’t put him in a spotlight quite like Burial, or other British electronic acts like Four Tet and Skream, Actress has still put out some pretty great music that has made him a must-watch for fans of the genre. I don’t remember enjoying his most recent full length “R.I.P.” all that much, but I think he makes some very interesting things happen on his fourth album “Ghettoville.”
If I have one initial complaint about the content of this album, is that it feels unfinished. The songs don’t really go through any movements at all. They just kind of float around on their own until they stop. There are cool, strange, memorable noises happening within these songs that catch my ear quite a bit, but its mixtape feel keeps me from fully enjoying it. I think I had some of the same complaints for “R.I.P.” I will say, though, that these are some of the most creative beats and tracks I’ve heard in a while. It feels like a companion piece to Burial’s recent “Rival Dealer” EP. “Ghettoville” is a very dark record that feels very inspired by the grimy streets of London and that’s something that’s always appealed to me about the UK’s electronic scene.
“Ghettoville” is a lengthy voyage through Clams Casino’s treehouse, Madlib’s basement, and MF DOOM’s dungeon. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear someone like Earl or even Yung Lean spitting over some of the instrumentals found within this record. I mean, it’s a pretty good album. The only problem, and I have this problem with even some of the best instrumental/electronic albums out there, is that there’s not a ton of variation. Nothing that really sets it apart from any other producer on SoundCloud except for maybe a higher production value. While the music itself is cool and great at times, I find it difficult to connect with “Ghettoville” as a whole. It doesn’t really feel like an album to me. There’s not much of a unifying theme or phrase that keeps this album together.
While this record isn’t perfect, though, I still feel like Actress is great at what he does. Like I said, there’s some awesome beats on here that have me bobbing my head and really feeling all the different layers and aspects to each track. There’s hints of Yung Lean, Death Grips, and classic UK garage within “Ghettoville,” so I would consider it a very forward thinking LP, but there’s not enough there to really connect me to the music. Maybe one day Actress will impress me.
SCORE – 6.5
FAVORITE TRACKS – Forgiven, Street Corp., Rims, Time, Gaze, Rap, Rule, Grey Over Blue