Actress – Ghettoville

Album Review by Lauren Strain | 14 Jan 2014
  • Actress – Ghettoville
Album title: Ghettoville
Artist: Actress
Label: Werkdiscs/Ninja Tune
Release date: 27 Jan

Billed as the sequel to Hazyville – which may inadvertently suggest that 2012's R.I.P., Darren Cunningham's most whole and open work to date, was, on the contrary, a tangent, a bastard child – Ghettoville is a quite purposeful step backwards for Actress; in lucidity, at least. In a statement dispatched alongside news of the album's release, he hinted at a deliberate devolution, leaving a record that has no 'decipherable language'; and besides the use of a handful of sampled watchwords that serve more to haunt than clarify, there is indeed no vocabulary – nor, perhaps, message – here.

Instead, Ghettoville is simply a space, a hinterland where textures materialise, mutate and fade, their tessellations or arguments observed and mediated by no one. Many sputter out as quickly as they spurted into life (Image, Don't), while those that labour under their own glutinous weight continue, perversely, to blot and foam (Forgiven, Street Corp.). Birdcage, Our and Time patchwork together to form a central plateau; the latter is a highlight, its brittle, muted bells like the rupture and pucker of fogged glass in winter.

Though in that same missive he accuses today's 'pseudo artists' of toothlessness, Actress still exhibits plenty of snarl: fans of R.I.P.'s Shadow of Tartarus will recognise its meat and paranoia in Frontline and in the gristly trail left by Towers's sticky underbelly. Overall, however, this is a far less bloody affair; and not, we hope, 'the conclusion of the Actress image,' even as we reluctantly note that opening tone – the wet, metallic ring of a death knell.‎