[ Werkdiscs; 2013]

Darren Cunningham has been putting out some of the most delightfully bizarre techno music in all of London for several years now. Last year’s R.I.P was a high-water mark for the producer, furthering his drift from the narcotized house shuffle of his debut Hazyville and embracing a fuzzy, glitchy abstraction unfit for all but the most brazenly unhinged of dance floors. His Silver Cloud EP is another entry in his home listening canon, a decidedly experimental 12″ that has more in common with the likes of Pan Sonic than with, I dunno, Shed or Andy Stott or Burial or whoever else Cunningham’s been lumped in with in the past.

The rhythm on these these tracks might remain fairly rigid, anchoring his steel-wool tones to a semblance of structure, but the beats themselves are capricious things, paper-thin and almost hollow. The looping synth passages that rest on top sound inspired by Rifts-era Daniel Lopatin or maybe the scratchy ambiance of Dan Abrams circa Chessa.

What’s impressive here is how Cunningham manages to borrow from the thumping liveliness of bass music, the hyperactive repetition of glitch, and the uneasy industrial murk of something from the Modern Love label without sacrificing any of these styles’ appeal. In fact, while I’m hesitant to call any Actress release “accessible,” Silver Cloud seems like it will appeal to a wider, more diverse audience than his prior LPs. There’s a crackling, consciously lo-fi feeling to this music that even R.I.P in all its strangeness didn’t necessarily bother with, This perhaps sets the stage for his upcoming fourth album, Ghettoville; sleek but gritty like a smoggy city skyline, everything on this EP–from the harp sample on “Voodoo Posse Chronic Illusion” to the hissing new age of “Silver Cloud Dream Come True”–seems decayed and lived-in, hospitable but hardly familiar. This isn’t techno music, but its approaches its left field aspirations with a techno mindset. After all, who says implied rhythm can’t groove on its own?

Grade: 75%