Actress + Lone
Corsica Studios, London
2 February 2013
Celebrating the fourth birthday of London club night Them in the grubby cavities of Corsica Studios, this is an incongruous double bill on the face of it.
Last spring saw the release of two career defining albums by Darren Cunningham and Matt Cutler, aka Actress and Lone. On RIP Cunningham implemented austerity measures on his palette of stuttering techno and grimy synths to carve out a monochrome meditation inspired by Paradise Lost and the quasi-philosophy of “the music of the spheres” – serious stuff, in other words. Galaxy Garden, in contrast, transcended the Brainfeeder-indebted phunkiness of Cutler's earlier records (including Ecstasy & Friends, released on Cunningham's Werkdiscs label) in a riot of high-velocity euphoria that riffed on the melodic energy of '90s rave.
Playing first, Cutler brings the room to a peak-hour frenzy with a live set built largely from his two releases on the revived R&S Records – the latest album and the playful, uptempo Echolocations EP. Twisting acid squelch and metallic gamelan chimes are stacked atop hollow percussion and blissed out Balearic sighs, building a vision of earthly paradise that harks back to the techno-utopian fantasies of the Castlemorton era. Even the names of his tracks – 'Spirals'; 'Crystal Caverns 1991'; 'Earth's Lungs' – come from a halycon era, and this retro-futurist assemblage aligns Cutler with the digital maximalism of fellow Brit producers Rustie and Hudson Mohawke, whose colossal 'Cbat' he slips in mid-set.