Published May 04, 2015Wolverhampton UK-based musician Actress (a.k.a. Darren Cunningham) has made a name for himself as one of the most unorthodox techno artists of recent years and is at the helm of the 49th instalment of !K7's venerable DJ Kicks series. At its best, DJ Kicks is both entertaining and informative, but if there ever was a slight knock on some of the volumes in the series, it's that they have been a tad predictable, allowing the artist/curator to remain in the respective confines of their genre, going deep into the crates for sure to unearth some gems, but never venturing out of their comfort zone.
Cunningham avoids this with his hour-long mix. Upon first listen, one might even question if this is even a mix in the conventional DJ sense, since he eschews careful transitions in favour of long fadeouts, or suddenly slams a song into the next, or even takes slight pauses between cuts; there's also a lot of genre-hopping with no real narrative, but that's not a detriment since Reel By Real's hypnotic "Look At Me," the frenetic IDM of Autechre's "Pen Expers" and the joyous Chicago house of Chez N Trent's classic "Windy City Club" play out in their original versions and form a cerebral cohesion after repeated listens that's strengthened by the undeniable quality of the material. Cunningham's DJ-Kicks exclusive "Bird Matrix" probably won't fill a dance floor, but its moody detachment is, like the rest of the record, entrancing in its own right. (!K7)