Following the noted 2010 album Splazsh, South London producer Darren Cunningham returns with a suite of electronic laments, tone structures and dreamtime rhythms which all carry his unmistakable fingerprint. R.I.P. comprises fifteen tracks painstakingly crafted by Cunningham in his London studio over recent years, with a conceptual arc taking in death, life, sleep and religion. Tip!!
Right from the debut album Hazyville (Werk Discs), Actressï¿½s music has carried deep tinges and pock marks of London's rave music heritage. But after the angular dynamics of Splazsh (Honest Jonï¿½s), R.I.P. heads out into deep space. The rhythms and pulses are smudged or blurred, or are hinted at by their absence. 2-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 and play out through gardens, serpents and mythological caves. ï¿½When I feel I'm coming towards the end of the process I'll buy some books related to the theme. So I started Miltonï¿½s Paradise Lost, started to re-read Jamie Jamesï¿½s The Music Of The Spheres. I wanted the movements to make sense scene-wise and chronologically"
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 Actressï¿½s reputation as one of the most eloquent voices to emerge from the sub-bass nexus of London dance music. His intuitive and original grasp of beats, textures and rhythm puts him on a parallel path to dance music innovators such as Drexciya, T++, Aphex Twin, Burial and Basic Channel. But the way he engages with electronic sound from first principles, realising his own self-contained sonic worlds, hints at less obvious kinships outside the dance music fraternity, with pioneers of homebrewed sound experiments such as Cabaret Voltaire, Pan Sonic and Oval. It moves the body but the sounds also tap into to something more intangible inside you; you dance, but also ï¿½slip/drift into another realm, probably without even realising.ï¿½