ACTRESS‘ new album Ghettoville is a low punch, a blur in your vision, a face you should remember but can’t in the burning afterglow of chronic substance abuse.
The electronic musician’s previous record, R.I.P., was painted in slick blue-green oils and sprinkled with gold dust, this time around the canvas is mud brick covered with the slime of decaying leaves and and the silky grit of graphite powder. Losing your hearing, pierced with feedback, you try to rescue sonic structure out of the brown gloom, but you fail.
There are brief moments of ecstasy. Birdcage raises it’s head briefly out of the sonic muck. Our pays homage to early IDM. Gaze teases with a jilted shards of the early rave scene and jack-tha-body drum samples. Yet in the overheated atmosphere of current EDM-scene hysterics, Ghettoville skillfully inoculates against pleasures of the dancefloor (the 5th cut on the record is, after all, titled Contagious).
The bulk of the record bows low under its own great weight. Not the somehow exhilarating neogoth/softgrunge/graverave that keeps mushrooming on the Net, but instead dark, almost hopeless, forlorn machine dirges. If there’s a declaration of intent anywhere in Ghettoville, it’s the cuts Time or Don’t, both mournful pleas echoing uncleanly before dying in infancy.
John Tavener once said “…there are an awful lot of artists around who are very good at leading us into hell…I would rather someone would show me the way to paradise.” In a way, ACTRESS‘ Ghettoville takes us to both.
Tastefully crafted and indisputably challenging, Ghettoville lacks the organic transcendence that illuminated 2012’s R.I.P., in the end yielding a less listenable, but breathtakingly dark, record.
NBHAP Rating: 3.5/5