The Austin Chronicle

Phases & Stages


Reviewed by Conor Walker, June 20, 2014, Music


I W I (Public Information)

This second effort from Chicago duo Acteurs drifts out five slow-burners like a candle-lit sewer occupied by spewing machines and a savant poet clutching a tape recorder. Singer Brian Case was a member of post-hardcore St. Louis group 90 Day Men, as well as the Ponys, and most recently acted as the frontman for Kranky's Disappears. Jeremy Lemos of White/Light is a sound designer who's worked with Sonic Youth and Pavement. Together, their bleak aesthetic unspools like a missing Coil disc with a near comatose Michael Gira babbling away haphazardly. Think Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape put to an electronic dirge. That dimly lit letter quality drones throughout, starting with the first utterances from opener,"Pride of Classes": "Dear bullfighter, read about you in a book/ Dreamt of drinking wine with you and Mr. Bull." Such portrayal evokes a sense of decaying nationalism, and though not as opulent or operatic as Scott Walker's "Clara," where he recaps Mussolini's violent death via a rhythm (literally created by punching a pig carcass), the Acteurs conjure something kin to the deterioration of Iberian nationalism, summoning Franco decomposing in a field. That ambience is pervasive throughout; the beats are limbless, faltering with Case's uncanny poetics, where they lilt in a dank and darkly humorous corner before the wall crumbles away. ***.5

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