Review : ACTRESS - Hazyville
TinymixtapesMired in a miasma of fog, submerged rumbles contort to rise through jagged cracks in the industrial concrete. The trunks of passing trucks shake rattle-rattle with subwoof swells that cause arm hairs to stand at full attention. A palette of gray haze glazes the district over with an artificial sheen of Saran-wrapped grit. The digital junkyard awaits its daily shipment of crashed hard drives and cracked circuit boards: a reliquary of forgotten technology. Tethered telephone lines conduct melodies in the thick hum of electric air. Somewhere, off in the distance, a jackhammer jots encrypted notes as notches in rock. Welcome to Hazyville.
A muffled diva croons an indecipherable hook that resembles the word “Pecans” on the opener, “Again The Addiction.” From the jump, warbling underwater TurboGrafx tones suck you into their vortex with Freestyle vocal sputters and shuffling hi-hat stutters. A cold distance emanates as the track slowly thaws. Spastic, manic, and paranoid, it scores virtual reality high-speed chases through slick streets, blurred data racing past. “Ivy May Gilpin” comes equipped with the sway of a digitized rainforest, 808 congas tapping under echoing bird chirps, and slow-growing synth moss. If not for its adrenaline-paced rhythm, it might lull to relaxation, but as percussive layers mount, the tension rises toward the tree canopy. “Mincin” is a scraping metal-on-metal throbber that wears down ears like grating gears of a bulldozer. Both nervous and stirring, it rewards those who can escape unscathed by its jarringly rough edges.
This is the music playing at hovercraft assembly lines and robot weddings; mechanized emotion, carefully constructed by the human hand....full text
PopmattersThe turn-of-the-century London-based Werk label first busted out of the LP ghetto in late 2005, and has since pumped an increasing amount of wherewithal into its compact disc division. It turned out to be a smart move. There’s no arguing with a purist that the sound of a vinyl record will clobber that of an equivalent CD any day of the week, but not everyone owns a phonograph, and digital music-on-the-go is an understandable priority for our generation of go-go-goers. Werk’s recent stable of high quality CD releases put the imprint on the electronica map, first with the warped ragga of Disrupt’s Foundation Bit, then with the wonky dubstep of Zomby’s Where Were U in ‘92?, and finally with Lukid’s Foma, an instrumental hip-hop dream that imagined what would happen if Flying Lotus drank Koushik’s psilocybin Kool-Aid at the pool party by mistake. As dubstep and this stripe of J Dilla-influenced downtempo resurged simultaneously in 2008, Werk became a bellwether almost overnight, its preferred musical trends and preferred medium of distribution the secret recipe for its success....full text
BoomkatBack in stock. We know we say this a lot, but this one's seriously been a long time coming, building expectation levels to an unprecedented high. The incredible talents of Actress have previously only appeared on a pitifully small but perfectly formed number of releases, from his inception to our personal 'Rhythm Hall Of Fame' with his 'No Tricks' 12" way back in 2004, to remixes for Various Production and Alex Smoke, Mr Cunningham's output has remained meagre but incredibly well respected. A good amount of his time has been taken up running the well established Werk Discs imprint, a label borne from the aftermath of his Hyperdub night with Steve Goodman some 6 years ago, presenting convention challenging acts like Zomby, Radioclit, Lukid, or Disrupt for our pleasure ever since. He's since found some spare minutes to assemble this amazing set of specialized Actress styles, inviting us into the a sonic universe encompassing heartfelt Detroit house and techno abstractions, post-bump R'n'B reconfigurations and ephemeral electronica in a truly idiosyncratic style. 'Again The Addiction' ignites the set with a production sounding like a more narcotic Kenny Larkin, it's purely unhinged Detroit techno with a psyched sound design that will fry your head. 'Doggin' trips out on some warm and woozy Theo P style house vibes, while 'Ivy May Gilpin' is the first of a number of tracks which seriously remind us of the brilliant NWAQ album 'The Dead Bears' in the best way possible with a submerged and percussive house vibe achieved by very few. 'I Can't Forgive You' sits deep at the bottom of this particular ocean with an ultra slow and vibing track, flowing with slowly shifting chord changes and decorated in deliciously mottled FX textures to reduce you to a stunned mess, while 'Redit 124' brings us to the earlier sound of the 'No Tricks' EP with a razor edited 313 glitch 'n jack track sounding like Anthony 'Shake' Shakir in his prime. But it's title track 'Hazyville' that's the real showstopper, a massively crushing electro variation that cleverly uses the compression tools at his disposal to squeeze out every last drop of robo-funk and static coated synthline pressure he can manage, turning in a truly sick wriggler that we've had on repeat for weeks. If you're still with us, check out 'Green Gal' at the end, again reminiscent of that NWAQ psyche house sound, bleeping and churning with a charcter of it's own but relentlessly deep and involving to the point of emotional implosion. This album has completely lived up to the hype we'd given it inside our own heads and if you can't be arsed checking the samples, just trust us that this is the finest blend of Theo Parrish, NWAQ & Flylo style rhythm magic that you're going to hear all year, or quite possibly the next for that matter! Onwards......full text
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