- I just got tired after a while, thinking up more words to put in the "genre" box for Actress' Splazsh. Dubstep. House. Techno. Experimental. And, really, what's the point? DJ/producer Darren Cunningham clearly has no interest in them. Dance purists won't be thinking about BPMs when they get lost in Splazsh. Casual listeners won't discern a predilection for anything other than experimentation. Splazsh isn't post-dubstep so much as its post-everything, a Flying Lotus-esque flight of fancy that sounds both effortless and painstaking at the same time.
Flying Lotus makes sense on Warp, removed from his supposed LA-based beats brethren. Splazsh arrives via Honest Jons, home of hypnotic brass ensembles, trios involving Moritz Von Oswald and compilations of New Wave Dance Music from South Africa. It's not nearly as diverse as that list might imply. But Cunningham's sketches—it's hard to call anything here a song, per se, aside from perhaps "Maze"—take in an enormous breadth of ideas, from the snap crackle pop-step of "Always Human" to the EQ techno fest "Let's Fly." It's techno in spirit, a dogged pursuit of the future. (Or, at the very least, sounds you've never heard before.)
This makes for tough listening. Hooks are there, but they aren't easy. The aforementioned "Maze" might be a way in. But you'd feel like a fool for recommending it as the Splazsh track. Not only does every track sound different, but nearly every track sounds different: Some things are lo-fi to a fault—the bass on "Bubble Butts and Equations" is hilariously overdriven. "Purrple Splazsh" sounds like it was hermetically sealed in the '80s, the lid just being lifted now. "The Kettle Men" is an outtake from Tango N' Vectif.
The expansive vision of Flying Lotus is an easy comparison, but I think a better one might be Anthony 'Shake' Shakir. Having seen both DJ, it's clear that they're regard for the floor is similar; a productive selfishness colors their sets. It's as much for themselves as it is for the crowd. Production-wise, though, Shakir always talks about his tracks as "failed experiments." Most would agree that Shakir's failed experiments beat the step-by-step recipe baking of most electronic producers. Splazsh has some of the best failures you'll hear in 2010.
04. Bubble Butts And Equations
05. Always Human
06. Get Ohn (Fairlight Mix)
08. Purrple Splazsh
10. Let’s Fly
11. Wrong Potion
12. Supreme Cunnilingus
13. The Kettle Men