Sterling selection from Darren Cunningham...
'Actress - DJ-Kicks'

At the controls of a mix that he's pretty much riding bareback, Actress relinquishes the steering wheel - look, techno, no hands! - and watches how the cards fall and hard drives crash. Darren Cunningham is clearly neither taking the 49th DJ-Kicks nor the mix format for granted, juddering and wobbling before collecting and correcting himself towards something approaching clarity.

On first listen it's a real trip as to what happens next, and non-Actress followers will be amazed at how much sense the mélange makes. As dense as it is bare, the aural fog and disorientation of alt-techno he has made his own across four albums has Actress throwing himself headfirst into a heap of wires and making sure every choice earns their right to the tracklist.

Boogie charlatans that brazenly pipe up out of a hard-nosed exterior are the most upstanding for Cunningham's pro-anything goes stance, though Actress has long had a bit of a groove about him, buried or buoyant. After Reel by Real's 'Look at Me' has put on early frighteners, Moon B's 'Those Moments' activates the mix's release valve, oblivious to the hardware maxed out around it, followed by Chez n Trent's joyous garage groove 'Windy City Club.'

Moments of head-clearing (or head-scratching) clarity, along with John Beltran's purpose-built meditation zone 'Anticipation', don't have long to dwell before they're choked in the to-and-fro of the off-kilter. Scooping up bottom end wreckage, electronic largesse, iron-grip supremacy and just plain techno meanness (Shxcxchcxsh's 'LDWGWTT') – and never mind the unclassified in between – Cunningham's befriending of the faders is a wide awake shake-up of mix purism.


Words: Matt Oliver

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