Actress has never been an artist who goes for the obvious route. Constantly innovating and refusing to subscribe to the genre boundaries that many are keen to enforce in modern music, Darren Cunningham has made his name through his own abstract meanderings, amounting to a lot more than mere electronic music for club use. Silver Cloud, sees him return to his own imprint, Werk Discs, after a lengthy sojourn with Honest Jon’s, with the three tracks on offer presenting a lot for any listener to take in, imbued with Cunningham’s own characteristic individual. Indeed, with the inclusion of some of the most outwardly impenetrable tracks from a producer not exactly known for his accessibility, Silver Cloud is arguably one of his most challenging releases to date.
Voodoo Posse Chronic Illusion makes an instant impression as the longest composition in Cunningham’s discography, totalling almost 12 minutes, seeming to continue the precedents set in the superb RIP. Juxtaposing the atonal dialling tone melody that refuses to bind coherently with strings that seem left over from Uriel’s Black Harp, the track highlights two very different elements of the producer, battling the organic beauty of the live instrumentation against harsh digital distortion. Whilst the heart of the composition is apparently constant, Actress’ superb control of atmosphere and slight variations in percussion (an element that was notably absent throughout RIP) maintains a carefully crafted aura, drawing the listener into what originally seems uncomfortable and ill fitting. The introduction of extra layers to the string melody are made all the more impactful through this careful synthesis of mood, leaving behind an incredibly beautiful piece of music that contrast drastically with what is to follow.
The remainder of the EP takes the speed down a lot, and I mean a lot. Silver Cloud Comes Through is a percussive slow motion house track that seems drenched in opiates, with bell chimes resonating through thick, syrupy static. Slurred drum hits appear to struggle through the mire, holding back until the last moment, with the composition constantly in threat of falling apart in a woozy mess. Another slow burner that doesn’t seem to offer much, Silver Cloud is mysteriously addictive, with the craftsmanship behind its composition belying its apparent simplicity.
Floating In Ecstasy continues this hazy house with an altogether more menacing track. Pitched down, slow motion vocals snarl across droning pads that resonate into nothingness, with the overall expansive emptiness of the track instilling a sense of impending futuristic dread. Whilst some questioned whether early vinyl rips (naughty, naughty), of the track were recorded at the wrong speed, the resultant codeine-indebted shambling monster leaves the listener uncomfortable yet undeniably compelled.
Overall this is highly unlikely to win Cunningham any new fans, but pre-existing ones who have come to love the challenge of Actress’ compositions will undoubtedly lap this up, as he cements his position as one of the most innovative producers in the world today. Kudos to anyone who manages to get away with playing these on a night out!