Actress – “X22RME” (Singles Going Steady)

After duping the techno world with his supposed retirement, Actress returns refreshed and reinvigorated to deliver one of his finest cuts to date.

Adriane Pontecorvo: Wave after wave of chrome-plated rhythm crashes against nostalgia-pinging samples on “X22RME”, a dance track fiercely modern even as it hearkens back a decade or two to turn-of-the-millennium visions of the future. Actress manages to make robotic blips sound strangely lush and organic as if all the cool alien life forms are throwing a very exclusive space yacht party. In the background, ever-present ambiance moves the song forward like a wind tunnel, heightening all the elements pushed into the forefront and giving the composition a hedonistic majesty. A dark and driving comeback with a masterful touch. [9/10]

Paul Carr: After duping the techno world with his supposed retirement, Actress returns refreshed and reinvigorated to deliver one of his finest cuts to date. It bears all the hallmarks of his finest work. Elegant yet street smart. Beautiful with a distinctly harsh aftertaste. Like drinking a perfectly aged whiskey that warms the belly but burns the throat. The song leads with an effortless, driving techno beat but with a chafing, abrasive edge. Halfway through the song explodes with bleeps and trills which plummet and shiver like suddenly waking up in an amusement arcade. It closes with slow, aching synths like then stepping out into sea air. A supreme return for the man who has carved out his special techno niche. [9/10]

Jordan Blum: Oddly enough, the video initially reminded me of a Terrance Malik film. I like the electronic/orchestral start. Unfortunately, once the color comes in and the actual beat starts, it feels a lot less human and musical to me. I’m not sure who the audience is for this, as its series of ‘bleeps” and “bloops” is neither fit for in-depth listening nor a fun club night. Also, the random images are kind of Lynchian, but they don’t seem to lead anywhere. [4/10]

Mike Schiller: It doesn’t sound like much at first, but the point of interest here isn’t in the beats — which are fine, mind you — but in that pulsating fuzz in the background. That the fuzz eventually wins, breaking down the beat entirely before a rumination on the ephemerality of the very idea of meaning is an added bonus, but really, for the two minutes that the beat is pushing things forward and that oppressive, harsh texture is bubbling up from the background, Actress finds the future in a style too often rooted in the past. [8/10]

Steve Horowitz: There seems to be less here than meets the ear. The minimalistic electronic sounds loop cleverly but purposely do not lead anywhere except to tell us that anything can mean anything. This is not profound or new, but it is a helpful key to listening to self-referential music. You are what you hear in your head. Every sound has already been heard. It all comes down to what one uses music for. Creation for its own sake is like an assigned task. Whatever, there is not much here to hook onto except as the background sounds for one’s daydreaming while doing monotonous work. [6/10]

SCORE: 7.20