For an artist that had as big of a year as Actress did in 2010, it's somewhat baffling how low of a profile London producer Darren Cunningham has kept in 2011. Granted, Actress did release a lukewarm 12" via NonPlus+, remix a song for indie darling Panda Bear, and give away a handful of tracks via his Twitter account, but it all seemed to pale in comparison to his second album, Splazsh, and the response to the music was equally unmatched. We'd like to think that the current nature of the music world is to blame; fans can be prone to quickly gobbling up what's put in front of them before moving on to the next 'hot' thing. Actress' confrontational, sometimes long-winded style of techno certainly requires a dedicated and patient listener, almost to a fault. And his latest record, the "Rainy Dub" b/w "Faceless" 12" for Honest Jon's, continues to take those tendencies to new extremes.
To be blunt, listening to "Rainy Dub" is a chore. The track is roughly nine minutes of about four synth tones repeating a few variations of a very short loop as a bit of delay fills in the blanks. That is all. The b-side, "Faceless," is, thankfully, far less stark in its minimalism and manages to make up quite a bit for what its partner on the flip side desperately lacks. It boasts the kind of stuff that makes for a satisfying Actress track: an oddly engaging bassline, a smattering of alien sound effects, loose melodic elements, and an overall air of tension and discomfort. It's propulsive without sounding rushed; it's coherent without making a whole lot of sense; it's Actress looking over the edge of the deep end without the urge to jump. We hope to find Mr. Cunningham in a similar place the next time he makes a blip on our radar.