Electronic music is a huge tent with many diverse approaches, and it's more international than ever with producers around the globe pushing music forward. The year's best albums featured returns from established talents, as well as ground-breaking newcomers.
Rather than continue to experiment with more bells and whistles, studio guru Actress has stepped back and experimented with the most elemental of all sounds: the voice.
88 is not the most consistent Actress album to date, but it is probably the wonkiest. Parts of it sound like relics from the analog era; others sound like nothing else on earth.
“We were playing the roles,” Brandy Burre says. She’s talking about her marriage, but she speaks as well to the many roles anyone or everyone plays each day, the many ways we experience ourselves and others. In the film Actress, Burre goes on to reflect on her own “mom role” and her husband’s “breadwinner” role, and Robert Greene’s remarkable film goes on to work with her, to ponder, provoke, and pose questions about what it means to act, to perform parts and also to be authentic.
Again and again, Actress presses against the conventional boundaries of documentary, presses against your expectations. It does so through a subtle, seductive, and sometimes jarring collaboration between filmmaker Robert Green and subject Brandy Burre. As she looks back on her family life — she has two young children with her husband Tim Reinke — and also on the acting career she put on pause in order to pursue this life, Burre ponders and also embodies the questions that might come up for anyone who has made choices, who has followed a particular path or left behind another. As she thinks through her past and considers new options for a future, including her hopes to return to acting (she’s best known at this point for her role on The Wire, as political campaign fixer Theresa D’Agostino), the film observes and also collaborates with her.
Actress is screening 9 February at the DocYard, followed by a Q&A with Greene.
See PopMatters‘ review.