Actress comes out of retirement decked out in chrome for AZD.Ninja Tune, 2017
5.8 / 10
Darren Jordan Cunningham, aka DAZ, aka Actress, returns from a short-lived retirement with AZD. The new album arrives with a very detailed biography just in case you can’t surmise that it’s about chrome. Chrome is probably the best browser on the Internet, so it’s about time that an artist addresses this. I keed, i keed! Actually, it’s more about chrome as a reflective surface or how it reflects a bleak future. And then there are other explanations and reference points. Or you could just give AZD a listen and form your opinion without any backstory. But if you do that, then you might find it terribly boring.
I’ve read about AZD being referred to as introverted dance music. As an introvert, I can attest that it’s definitely awkward. If you brought it to a party with your friends, they might look at you funny during the bleep bloop of its opening track. They may even raise their eyebrows as “FANTASYNTH” meanders. Sure, it’s got a better pace than its predecessor, but beyond that, it’s repetitive dream music. Best for meditation rather than dancing.
“CYN” is when the album finally starts getting interesting. Cunningham samples Rammellzee to establish a hip hop vibe as wormy textures wiggle about. Although it’s a change-up from everything before it, “CYN” still sounds messy. Maybe that’s AZD‘s intention. Less sloppy is the energetic “RUNNER”. It bolts out of the gate as if it’s the hare. The track picks up dust as it races along, sounding scratchy and slightly lo-fi.
Also good is the eerie slice of creepy called “DANCING IN THE SMOKE”. Its subtle background synths instilling terror as a voice commands you to dance while the record spins. It feels uncomfortably comfortable. More abrasive is “FAURE IN CHROME”; however, a better title would be “IT Support Nightmare”. It sounds like a computer malfunctioning with dramatic swells in the background. Is it hinting at a future where we’re helpless to the screams of a computer? More importantly; is this dance music? Only your heart can answer that question.