- Actress' first release as Levantis, 2013's hiss-encrusted techno EP Believe, was very agreeable, but its follow up has something more distinctive to say. Romantic Psychology I is about "Nigredo," an alchemical term meaning "blackness" and referring to processes of decomposition. For psychiatrist Carl Jung, the word became a metaphor for a confrontation with one's inner darkness. The album reflects this in its mood of complete enervation. The materials are diverse—corrosive electro on "Undr," balmy piano wanderings on "Colour"—but the sense of trudging melancholy is consistent and weirdly seductive.
In this sense, the album calls to mind Actress's last LP, the dark and despairing Ghettoville. It opens promisingly: on "Exploding Boxes," salvos of machine-gun claps and kicks are fired off in tearful slow-mo, and "Red Blocks" is superlative gothic drone. Both linger long enough for their gloom to sink deep into the bones.
The pace picks up moving towards the album's midsection, as it skips through a series of brief sketches. They're mostly excellent, from the weepy strings of "Pieris Rapae" to the stoned funk of "Yogurt" and "Whispering Sky." But their quick-fire deployment seems at odds with the anaesthetised mood. "Stained Glass" and "Altered Anthem," both surprisingly tuneful, are particularly crying out for expansion.
Actress comes good on "Jamaican Greek Style," whose baroque melodies and groggy birdcall are locked in loop purgatory for almost ten minutes. It should be a charmless slog, but somehow it's the opposite: poetic and, eventually, beautiful. If Romantic Psychology I had a few more of these epics, it might feel less like a sideshow and more like the main event.
01. Exploding Boxes
02. Red Blocks
04. Pieris Rapae
06. Stained Glass
07. Altered Anthem
09. Whispering Sky
10. Jamaican Greek Style
11. Slow Electronic Beat With Colour