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.