Friday, May 16, 2014

Live Review - Venetian Snares - My Love is a Bulldozer

Aaron Funk is an entirely other beast of electronic music

And Jesus wow what a beast. He looks like a sort of caveman. I feel like there's almost something reassuring about an artist that emanates a sense of depravity. Like, you see a musician who's all cleaned up and looking presentable and it's like... why did you bother with that? It seems like they're trying to make up for something in the music. I dunno. You see Aaron Funk, and you feel confident that this guy isn't playing by anyone else's rules. I remember reading a really great interview with him where he told some story about going into Wendy's and rubbing burgers on himself? But now I can't find it so maybe I somehow invented it. It is important for me to know that my electronic artists are the type of people who would feel okay doing that if they wanted to.

He also used to release stuff all the time, like, at least one LP every year and usually a few EPs too. He did this from 2000 on, but since 2010's My So-Called Life (which is fantastic, I still listen to it every month or so) he's really slowed down, just releasing a handful of EPs. That's fine by me, 'cause I love this music, but infrequently and in low dosages. He takes breakcore to extremes, not pursuing metrics of sophistication, complexity or speed, but aiming for the almost nauseating punch-to-the-gut feeling of insanity that only high BPM sample-driven music can give. But then he also has stuff like My Downfall (Original Soundtrack) and Rossz Csillag Alatt Sz├╝letett (straight up one of my favorite albums ever, like, top 30 probably) which reveal a whole new set of sensibilities, but with this same sort of... brutally emotional gut-level directness. I really loved My So-Called Life because it had a mixture of both. I remember listening to "Who Wants Cake?" and "Welfare Wednesday" on loop while playing Cultris and feeling like my mind was getting absolutely shredded and then, when my wrists couldn't take it any more, I could go on to "Hajnal2" and the title track and ruminate painfully on all the time I just wasted. Depravity breeds depravity.

So that's what I'm hoping for here, that mixture. I really have no idea what to expect. The album cover and tracklistings give uhhh... I don't know about a mixed message, but a sort of... well, a confusing message.

Venetian Snares - My Love is a Bulldozer
Live Review

1. 10th Circle of Winnipeg
Haha good title. Starting off with... dripping, strings, yes... I like these sort of sireny, rusty, strings. Ooh, this is really jazzy, this drum kit here. I like how a few of the sounds are a bit truncated, makes the thing seem very urgent. Ooooh female jazz vocal samples, I love when he does this. It sounds like she's singing about Winnipeg, "In the snow, life was empty" oh man and then I love these sounds here around the 1:10 mark, and the drums getting even brisker and more intense. There's a real sense of pulsing here that's really addictive. And then this technique of like, "submerging" the sound, I love that too. "Life was empty" classic VSnares sample. Yess I just love this rolling, pulsing feel. And the drums just getting more and more complex... Haha I love how it just keeps sneaking into really breakcore territory, it feels like he can't help himself. Breakjazz yes. Break jazz break. I love when there's sudden "sci-fi" sounds way in the upper register, so much fun. I love the feeling that he could really do anything on any track, there's no rules he's playing by. Haha I love the fade away around 4:10 and then everything comes back super force, that's like, my favorite trick ever. I love the feeling of insisintency on these little patterns of three. And oh man super panned stuff in triplets hnnng good job. Wow the drums near the end here are just nonsensical, I have no idea what they're doing, like, twelve things at once. "This world is over, there's nothing left", sure. This is like a way more aggressive Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble. **

2. Deleted Poems
Really grimey strings and stuff, and that distant wooden knocking sound, and children's choir??? Is this post-rock?? I have no idea what to make of the title. He should collaborate with Michael Gira they seem to hate stuff in the same way maybe. I love the very quiet water sounds. "Don't just walk away!" this is so dramatic, this seems like a sort of play. I really like these strings though. I feel like this might have NO DRUMS AT ALL. 2/3rds through and NO DRUMS, NO DRUMS ALERT. except for that one big booming bass drum but you know what I mean. This is pretty cool. Spanish guitar sorta thing. No idea what to make of any of this. Didn't think he'd make a song like this. It's like... it needs the album context, feels weird for him. S-

3. 1000 Years
Another sorta sentimental title, more strings. Nice but where drums at tho? These vocals sound like... some Tolkien dad rock sorta thing. With the harp and all. "Little fingers dipped in magic" huhhh. HAHA YEAH okay here we go. Now we snares. That was a really nice effect and haha oh man there was a thing with this violin that was really awesome. These are classic VSnares drum techniques and I love the chopped really dramatic samples and little string breaks. This is intense, this feels like war or something. Around 2:40 we're getting a really strange dramatic effect where the drums are like, cannons, or something. Yess I really like the rapid violin sounds, reminds me of "RCAS". "I've punched dragons in their heads"? This is like some parody of things I don't listen to lol. Oh man back into this super dynamic breakcore, HE'S GOING ALL OUT NOW. I really like the structure of this song, it's so unnerving, it's like... nothing is safe. So dramatic, so dynamic! I like the vocal effects near the end here, super echoey and panned, and these little "microbreaks" are really addictive too. Truncating the sound of truncated drums in truncating patterns contrasting with everything else being so loopy and echoey sweeeeet ahhh. These things are just popping. Nice. S+

4. Your Smiling Face
Even more sentimental. "Guess who?", I like this rhythm, I can't get my head around it, and these really high register plinkings, it is a very full sound despite it being very minimal and at the extreme ends. Same vocalist uhhh is this actually Aaron himself? That's pretty rare but not unprecedented. This... sorta reminds me of TV on the Radio, whaaaaaat? "I realize I was born to kiss your smiling face, WOOOOOO", this is just... bizarre, lol. This doesn't remind me of anything anymore. Maybe like... a lounge band on a lot of PCP or something. No idea what to make of this, like... conceptually, aesthetically, meaningfully, anything, which in itself is pretty interesting. S-

5. Amazon
These are like elephant trumpets and then yesss nice breakcore oh man he has this sort of "suction" effect he does sometimes that I love so much. Is he saying "I'm a God"? This is really fun, really rambunctious. Oh no he's saying "Amazon" oh obviously. "Run the other way from the amazon" haha. Or "Running all the way from the amazon"? That's less funny, idk. This is fun, though, really high energy, it has a sort of depraved "pointlessness" to the energy that I really like. There's a cool string thing going on here. Good, tight drums, lots of fun, the sort of thing that really infects you. S

6. My Love is a Bulldozer
Title track! Ooh ooh I like this, I like these chip sorta beats, I love the complexity of this rhythm and melody. "My heart beats so fast", he's so... sappy in these, it's surreal. "My hand reaches up to take your hand" "My dick feels so hard it could break your heart" HAHA NEVERMIND. "My love is a bulldozer on the shores of paradise", "in heaven", hahaha awesome, and then THESE DRUMS, this is a BRUTAL ATTACK. I love this oh man. I love the variety in this song already. And then these churning strings, so dramatic. And things just exploding and bursting everywhere. "Only you can make my dick feel like this" hahahaha and I mean really this is still a sort of sappy and sincere sort of sentiment hahahahaha oh man I love these drums "My dick feels so hard it could break apart" and then the drums are like way more broken up, they feel like they're malfunctioning. This is so awesome and oh man at 3:40 there's another really dramatic change, where do these keep coming from? This is just so sick oh my god. Haha oh man he did the "drums climbing in pitch" thing but to a new extreme. Oh man he's having so much fun here. Me too. ***

7. She Runs
Long song. Really spacey sounds here. Organ sounds even I think. Wow so huge, my head is rumbling. I'm so excited, what's gonna happen? Hmmm really "distant" drums, really scattered, scattercore. I'm having a lot of fun looking at the little uhh spectrograph thing in my music player. This is really cool. I love how, despite it being so scattered, there's an underlying pulse that is really infectious and clear. So complex... and only getting complexer, awesome, yes. These drums are getting really fast, just barely outside the reach of being so fast they blend and become just drills. Wow and I love how the synths will just like, fill out the whole track. This is so cool there's so much stuff happening, I'm amazed that it's only just half over. Now we sorta back down again for a sec, contemplative moment... Haha yes and then back at max power instantly, that will never stop being exciting for me, no matter how many people do it. There's so many cool rhythms going on here, I can't even process it. Stuff that just "bursts" quickly and stuff, like, I love that so much. And now a real major downshift at the 6min mark, into something more like Stars of the Lid lol. Not quite. This is cool, very ethereal... And wind effects yesss i love those. **

8. 8am Union Station
Hmm this length, this title, is this the VSnares "In McDonalds"? Nah it's some flamenco thing lol. Weird... okay though. This is like something the Flashbulb would do. I like this, though, it's very pleasant. It sounds weird in the context of the album but this is something that could appear in it's "proper" context and you'd accept it. A+

9. Shaky Sometimes
Hmmm no idea what's going on here. We got some horns and okay yeah there's some drums, sweet. This is really cool actually. No idea how to describe it or even why it's cool. I love the xylophone, horn and drums combo, it feels like... festivalish, I dunno. This feels very celebratory, but there's still a sense of adventure, of progression. Wow I love these horns, the sort of "depth" to them and then WOW AH YES the way it "slid" there back into breakcore was totally sweet. So many cool effects going on here at once. The way it pulls back to just these "horns" which prolly isn't the right word but whatever is really nice. **

10. Too Far Across
Hmmm not sure what's happening here either. "So far away from you tonight", he sounds... I dunno. "The moon is fading in this broken sky", so much sentimentality here, I have no idea what to make of any of this, did he fall in love or something? This is pretty neat, really atmospheric and rich. "I told someone I needed you", is this really the same guy who said "Making a lasagna, in your punani"? But who am I to limit the forms that love can take... I like how the strings still have a sort of high speed rhythm, very Flashbulby. A+

11. Dear Poet
Man like, what can you make of a title like this? And these really icey strings. Like, I have no idea what's happening here, it seems like two very extreme sensibilities are coming from their extreme sides and have not yet met in the middle. Oh yes, they meet in drums. It's so weird that high-speed breakcore drums are the comforting and reassuring element of the album, lol, that must be a first. He's getting so good at smoothly transitioning between breaky and stringy parts, even though on paper that seems impossible. Around 3:30 here there's a pretty cool instrument sound that I can't identify at all. This is such a tense song... and there's even a piccolo or something. I love how, in the midst of really intense breaky stuff there's also stuff moving in synch to another much more definite rhythm and how those two interact. He did the "backsampled" drums trick which I love. I like this piano stuff here near the end. This is yet another new feeling for his stuff. S+

12. Your Blanket
So low and heavy... so rumbling and distant... what's gonna happen? I'm gonna guess this will be another "no drums!" sorta track. This is pretty nice, though... very full sort of sound. I dunno. Very little rhythm whatsoever, lol. I like the vocals that just sort of hinted in for a second around 1:45, very mysterious. Yeah, this is pretty cool. So dramatic, these big horns and stuff. Feels like it's swelling to the point where it'll explode. S

That was... not at all what I expected

I feel like it completely invalidated everything I said in my little intro, lol. I mean for all the explicitness and dick-talk this is actually a pretty not depraved album. It's very sweet and sincere and it feels almost... healthy! It feels pretty restrained and inexcessive, too. Or rather, it has moments of excess, a feeling of almost "bingeing" on drums, but then he turns it off entirely for whole tracks.

And that aspect is really weird for me, too. There's all these little interludes which are totally free of drums... which is cool, and I think it's neat that he's exploring all these avenues, and I see the effect of it sorta spacing out the album more, and making other parts more dramatic, but at the same time, I'm really not feeling it so much, and I feel like I'll probably end up skipping them more times than not.

Like, I guess in general I want to listen to Venetian Snares because I want something really depraved and excessive. I want drums on top of drums on top of samples. This does a way with a lot of that. So much of the strings and vocals on the album are original, which is cool, but I mean, there was a reason that he was sampling in the first place, and we lose that now. Somewhat counter-intuitively, being "original" instead of "sample-based" actually limits your aesthetic range. Despite this album taking some unprecedented exploration into other genres and other emotional stuff, My So-Called Life still feels way more varied.

Emotio-aesthetically, this album also breaks new ground with mixed effect... He used to be so irreverent, but here his irreverence (in the lyrics of things like "1000 Years" or the title track) is used for effect towards one object i.e. "Only you can make my dick feel like this" is offensively irreverent, but not really for the "you". Whereas stuff like a sample of "I fucking hate you, take your drawers down and rape you" is (potentially) offensively irreverent to everyone equally. It seems like a minor point, but I think there's actually a major ideological difference behind it. Or he used to just say totally nonsense things like “We could communicate through advanced telepathy from the bottom of the ocean to the 747”, which is one of my favorite lyrics ever... nothing really like that here. And really most of his lyrics don't even have this layer of irreverence, they're just straight up sincere lovesong type lyrics! Bizarre.

This seems to all reflect a new sort of hopeful mindset. Before, things just brutally mocked into absurdity, or, failing that, (and this is my understanding of Rossz Csillag Alatt Sz├╝letett's worldview) incorporated into a world that is relentlessly cruel and absurdly pointless. He even seems to change his mind a bit on the loathsome Winnipeg... like, "10th Circle of Winnipeg" isn't positive, by any stretch, but it's way more restrained and considerate than, say, "Winnipeg is Fucking Over" or "Die Winnipeg Die Die Die Fuckers Die". On this album, it seems like... good things can happen. I dunno. Right now it all strikes me as strange and unbelievable, too out of character. I might come around, though.


Anonymous said...

Nice review. I haven't listened to alot of his work, but what I have seems really hit or miss. But the hits are enough to keep me coming back. Gonna be seeing him in July, actually.

Keatsta said...

Nice, I bet he'll be a lot of fun live.

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