Slave New World
Crisis Actor is a collaboration between David Thrussell and Tony D’Oporto, two artists who have over the course of their careers touched on numerous styles of electronic music under various guises. Forgoing the esoteric and chill elements that both have dabbled in at various points (Thrussel as Black Lung and Soma, D’Oporto as Gnome and Gnomes of Kush) Crisis Actor deliver what is mostly a straight electro record, albeit one soaked in modern conspiracy lore and sardonic social commentary.
The best touch point for most of Slave New World is probably Thrussel’s early work as Snog, minus the extensive sampledelica but replete with the same danceable grooves and acerbic lyrics. Early tracks like “Electronic Eye” and “Superstar” feel especially cut from that early 90s cloth, with tweaky reverbed sequences squirming around groovy kick-snare and cymbal patterns and simple EBM basslines. It’s a suitably adaptable template, which in its minimalism reveals a number of solid configurations, from the minimal techno vibe on “The New Dark Age” to the electro funk of “The Dissonant Reality Show”. There isn’t a great deal of complexity in instrumentation or atmosphere between these songs, the album’s variety comes instead from stylistic shifts in arrangement. This is most apparent in its closing numbers, “Tor” and “Abramovic”, where Thrussell’s sneering vocals are abandoned and the rhythm tracks are throttled down to their most low-key, baring something of a resemblance to D’Oporto’s collaborations with Dead Voices On Air’s Mark Spybey.
Thematically there’s certainly a contemporary slant to the LP’s topics, including some trenchant observations about our current inability as a society to distinguish between entertainment and news. Foremost amongst them is “#pizzagate”, wherein the outlandish and wholly discredited conspiracy theory is invoked as metaphor for the rise of internet borne misinformation and its role in shaping our political climate. Elsewhere “Superstar” posits a connection between the burgeoning internet celebrity culture and the concept of crisis actors – false flag boogeymen invented to explain away acts of mass violence. It’s definitely Thrussel’s wheelhouse thematically and in spite of a few missteps (“Death by Selfie Stick” is too on the nose to be the social media as mass extinction event indictment it sets itself up as) most of it reads as being perfectly reasonable given the current political climate.
Social commentary and the dancefloor have always been fast friends, both overtly and discretely, and it seems fitting that Crisis Actor have gone the DJ-friendly route for their debut. It’s probably a little too dry and weird to penetrate the consciousness of audiences reared on big room house and EDM, but those seeking some cutting insight in their industrial club songs should find something to enjoy on Slave New World.