In attempting to create a cohesive DJ set, Darren Cunningham (Actress) shows his skills lie more in his own material than the seamless integration of others.
Afforded his own installment in the long-running DJ-Kicks series, Darren Cunningham (aka Actress) sticks largely to sputtering, skittering tracks that carry none of the sense of existential dread and strict avoidance of expectations that have permeated his own recent recordings. Instead, these tracks from a variety of artists across a rather broad expanse of decades offer up a slightly more straightforward, occasionally left-of-center, take on experimental dance music that never truly comes together. It’s all pleasant enough, but it largely lacks the appeal of Actress’ own recordings.
A small handful of these manage to stick out due to their relative dissimilarity. Among these, Reel By Real’s menacing “Look at Me” and Beneath’s “Stress 1”, which merges seamlessly into Simbiosi’s “Impari", and Moon B’s funky “Those Moments” help break up the monotony of some of the more stylistically similar tracks. But all these largely pale in comparison to his own “Bird Matrix”, itself sounding of a piece with his Ghettoville album. Placed in the penultimate track position, it’s as though Cunningham used the preceding tracks as a set up to help remind listeners what they liked about his work under the Actress guise to begin with. It’s a mildly interesting move that lacks the intended impact and, as a whole, finds this particular installment falling a bit flat.