Actress, real name Darren Jordan Cunningham, known to friends as Daz, returns with a new album, now on Ninja Tune and a new music system called AZD (pronounced "Azid"), a chrome aspect journey into a parallel world. An artist who has always preferred to make music than to talk about it, in AZD he has achieved another remarkable landmark, one which is as resistant to interpretation as it is demanding of it. The album is themed around chrome – both as a reflective surface to see the self in, and as something that carves luminous voids out of any color and fine focuses white and black representing the perfect metaphor for the bleakness of life in the Metropolis as suggested by Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate.
Take lead single, "X22RME" (pronounced "Extreme") which elegantly plays between the lines of Oriental classic rave and Balinese warehouse Techno machined in a Rotherhithe lock up welding the grooves into a seamless cracked joint. At the other end of the spectrum is "Faure in Chrome," a byproduct or development from his collaboration with the London Contemporary Orchestra, in which he "repatterns" aspect of Faure's Requiem into a piece which sounds like the very institution of classical music being encased in electronic ice and scanned through a high frequency bandwidth. In between are gems like "Runner," a personal re-soundtracking of Blade Runner " and "Falling Rizlas," an alienated music-box ballad.
It's a remarkable piece of work, that harks back both to Actress' previous productions and to earlier iterations of the (broadly conceived) "techno" project without being beholden to anything but Cunningham's forward-facing, individual and disembodied vision.