Acteurs is something of a curveball for all concerned. The mini-LP once again broadens the stylistic purview of the Public Information label, and is a musical departure for the group's own members, too. Brian Case is best known as the frontman of Kranky-signed rock quartet Disappears, while Jeremy Lemos has toured as a sound engineer for the likes of Sonic Youth and The Shins, as well as being a member of White/Light. As Acteurs, the duo craft razor-sharp modular synth trance-outs that draw on the same reference points as the likes of Blackest Ever Black, Powell and Factory Floor: a pinch of no wave nihilism here, a little kosmische abstraction there, all capped off with a healthy slug of industrial dread.
Fortunately, this record is far from an also-ran in what is becoming a crowded sector of the music landscape. Granted, similarities to early '80s New York trio Ike Yard are perhaps a little close for comfort, but Case and Lemos put their own spin on the formula, crafting a six-track statement of intent that is darkly stylish and succinct, skeletal but brimming with ideas. The record kicks off with its strongest material in "Cloud Generating" and "Lowow"—the latter slower and sultrier, the former built around a crunchy synth pulse, lunging through the tape hiss in a manner not unlike Powell's hectic post-punk beatdowns. In both instances Case delivers cryptic monologues with a deadpan intensity, while precision-tooled bursts of hi-end texturing threaten to tip over into full-on noise terror. They never quite do it though, and the restraint on display is what makes this music so compelling: these structures are held together by extreme torque, quivering with tension and just about ready to snap.
Elsewhere, the baleful "Dusk Removing" and the fractionally sunnier "Critter" are vocal-free and comparatively pulseless, leavening interludes that serve to balance the whole. Ten-minute closer "Freezing Fog," meanwhile, is a formidable piece of terror-scaping in the vein of Throbbing Gristle. The howling, tortured synth solo in the closing minutes is undeniably brilliant, but for the most part Acteurs are at their best when they keep things short and sweet.
Tracklist: Acteurs - Acteurs01 Cloud Generating
03 Dusk Removing
04 Golden Rabbit
06 Freezing Fog
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