Review Summary: Don't stop the music.
If the rumours are to be believed, Ghettoville
is supposed to be the swan song of Actress. This is unfortunate for electronic enthousiasts around the globe, because Darren Cunningham's alter ego has throughout the years carved his own strange, unique signature deep in the annals of modern-day experimental music. If his debut Hazyville
was still characterized by well-recognizable influences, then the follow-ups Splazsh
reconfigured techno and house for the future. Ghettoville
, on the other hand, is marked as the sequel to his 2008 debut, and, as such, again hosts a myriad of styles under its guise. The whole record acts as a summary of what's brewing in the contemporary UK underground, with a hefty dose of the Berlin-Detroit axis sprinkled in between. The result is that the album is very scatterbrained, with no real logical progression or flow between the tracks. This makes Ghettoville a difficult but engaging listen, as you're constantly on your toes, wondering what will come next.
The only real misstep comes right at the very end: 'Rule' is an unnecessary footwork excursion that's only there to show that Cunningham is still down with what's hot at the moment. Just take the needle off or press pauze right before it starts, and you won't get your Ghettoville experience tainted by it. The fifteen other tracks, however, definitely live up to the high standards Actress has come known for throughout the years. Eery, intimate sketches like 'Our' are followed by abstract, glitchy sound collages such as 'Time', the desolated broken garage beats of 'Street Corp', the sensual R&B of 'Rap' and the hooky one-two punch of 'Skyline' and 'Image'. As always, Cunningham hides his well-constructed and moving melodies behind a thick layer of reverberating fog, but his compositions do seem more upfront this time around. This all makes Ghettoville
an oddly accessible, but at the same time uncompromising piece of work.
And you'd be a fool to miss it, because it's frankly already destined to be one of the most diverse and unique albums of the year. By harking back to the elegant simplicity of Hazyville
's sound, instead of further developing the sprawling nature of R.I.P
, Cunningham has crafted possibly his tightest effort yet, without needlessly reiterating himself. Hopefully the "R.I.P. music 2014"
statement will turn out to be spoken prematurely. But if it rings true, Ghettoville
will remain a fitting end to one of the most curious, challenging and engaging discographies in electronic music today.