R.I.P.'s infrequent flirtations with the dancefloor should not surprise those who checked Darren Cunningham's post-Splazsh singles. Despite being issued on 12" vinyl, "Harrier ATTK" and "Rainy Dub" would have evacuated any floor within a few seconds. None of the four tracks from those releases reappears on R.I.P., but they foreshadowed this hourlong album's completely abstract, mostly ambient composition. One exception aside, the few jacking and pulsing rhythms function more as secondary elements than focal points, swathed in fuzzy textures, mechanical drones, baleful strings, and vocal micro-samples. The majority of the album places Actress closer to the superbly creative, evocative, and mind-altering terrain inhabited by Oneohtrix Point Never, with detectable traces of early-'80s Roedelius and Moebius, as well as Autechre; there's nearly no likeness to any of the club-oriented contemporaries on the producer's Werk label. As with Splazsh, there is no template. The tracks bear little relation to one another and could have been arranged in any sequence. That said, the thrillingly scuffy friction of "The Lord's Graffiti" -- where Actress could steal and redefine Pere Ubu's "avant-garage" neologism, moving it from garage rock to U.K. garage -- seems to fade in at the perfect moment, at track 13 (of 15).
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R.I.P is clearly a listening album. One in which you can lose yourself completely, among the psychedelic passageways and semi-liquid builds. The fabric of the structure breathes and sighs, gasping at the organic matter surrounding its boundaries. The induced experience has a potent opiate feel, as your mind struggles to stay focused on the imagined and reality. Inspired by John Milton‘s epic 17th century poem, ‘Paradise Lost’, concerning the story of the Fall of Man (you know, the one with Adam and Eve, the fallen angel Satan, and the expulsion from the Garden of Eden), Actress explores themes of life, death, and religion. These pseudo-concepts are probed through track titles like “Holy Water”, “Serpent”, “Tree of Knowledge”, “Caves Of Paradise” and “The Lord’s Graffiti”. But don’t let these prospects turn you off – if you’re religion-averse, forget about the titles and simply enjoy.