The beats, bashes and crashes come at you relentlessly. You can imagine epilepsy-inducing video diarrhea as visual accompaniment to many of the songs on this album. Pausing for breath is a foreign concept in the cut-and-paste freneticism of Venetian Snares' style of drum programming. Your ears will be grabbed by their metaphorical throats and throttled mercilessly. Your open-mindedness to music will be first against the wall when the record plays.
Think of the sound of Venetian Snares - in real life a Canadian, conveniently named Aaron Funk - as the confluence of several tributaries of underground music:
-There is the spastic, insistent 160bpm drum programming of German noisecore and breakcore. Imagine very angry Alec Empire. Then again, when doesn't Alec Empire sound angry?
-There is the unmistakable influence of dancehall and reggae, albeit distorted, tortured and on methamphetamines. Some drum and bass too, but from the protogenic dub origins of that genre.
-Then throw in it unexpected moments of pure electronic oddness with bizarre found noises and samples, like Aphex Twin and Squarepusher on crack.
-Always, always, it's his cut-and-paste style of drum programming which you really notice, and you really grit your teeth to.
Yes, you're getting there. This is his sound for today.
Venetian Snares isn't for normal listening. It is very much acquired. I have listened to his earlier works, mostly released on vinyl. He was definitely recognizable as very much on the border between dark drum and bass and angry noisecore and breakcore. His old stuff sounds fantastic. It's grim. It's creepy. It's merciless. It's good for being pissed off or spooky. He pulls no punches.
He's evolved since then. And I am finding it hard to appreciate it much as I do his older stuff, which often gets the play for those times when fellow drum and bass lovers think they've heard it all. His contributions to the drum and bass scene are always undervalued. Unjustifiably so.
But back to my feelings on the current album. It gave me a headache. You really have to be in the mood for this sort of music. I was sorely pushed to find a score that reflected the conflict between my immediate gut disposition against his latest work and also my respect for how hard he pushes his own sound.
Not all of it is bad. There are gems on this album. My favorite is the 8th track "Sky Painted Car," which is the mildest of the tracks. It has a haunting crystalline synth melody that opens it. Then a heavily distorted dub beat, with flanges, clicks and pops everywhere takes over. Super heavy reverbed samples of ragga licks and samples intersperse the dubby bassline. The crystal synth comes back and it all carries you along. The cut and paste frantic drum lines are conspicuously less than in all the other songs.
The other great track on this album is track 6 "Epidermis." Being a fan of his older work, it will be no wonder to those who know it why I like this track. This is close to his old sound. It opens up with a very evil synth bassline. Very fast, punishing drum rolls run the track along. There are lots of stops and starts and what sounds like a very distorted guitar chord recorded down a drain pipe. Not common to a Venetian Snares track, but there is a coherent female vocal sample beginning from the middle of the song.
A song that must be noted because of it's interesting sound is the fourth track "Einstein-Rosen Bridge." It has a weird sped-up "reggae funk" feel to it that I can't put my finger on. But it's arranged like classic old school hardcore techno. Lots of electronic strawberries and farts abound and what sounds like a synthesizer belching in the second half of the song. It has a very odd vocal sample that sounds like it got taken off some late 1950's TV commercial for some childrens? product but it's lyrics concern something about time and space, the speed of light and meeting strange people in the street. This threw me until some research suggested I put the name "Einstein-Rosen Bridge" into Google. Aaah. Now I get it.
Venetian Snares is truly love-it-or-hate-it music. One gets the impression from much of the literature surrounding him that he is out to get a strong reaction from you, and he doesn't give a flying fornication at a rolling carbohydrate toroid if that reaction is hostile and caustic. Do give it a preview listen before owning it. As others have said before me, you have been warned. 3/10 -- Munir Remahl (25 May, 2005)