Venetian Snares - Cavalcade of Glee and Dadaist Happy Hardcore Pom Poms (Planet Mu CD)
Aaron Funk aka Venetian Snares is back, but you usually only have to wait a few months for him to return anyway. Last year he put out the genre-defying, world-beating, rectum-prolapsing "Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett" which confirmed my suspicions that Funk was reigning supreme over his peers in this zany electronica/IDM genre that I know little to nothing about (so I won't even front). Aphex Twin was in an analogue regression stage with the whole "Analord" 12" series that I don't think anybody legitimately cared for, Autechre and Boards of Canada came out of hiding to release horrifically boring full-lengths, and Squarepusher has been M.I.A. (to my ears) since 2004's slightly-above-average "Ultravisitor". The field was ripe for a newcomer, and while Funk isn't exactly new (his first LP was released in 2001), he was probably a fresh face for some and that's as good as anything.
So then this album is the follow-up to "Rossz...", despite the fact that the drill-laden "Meathole" EP came out in between. And if you heard "Rossz..." and liked it nearly as much as I did, you were probably wondering what the heck brotha was supposed to do next. Unfortunately the colorfully titled "Cavalcade..." isn't the same kind of artistic break-through as "Rossz..." was. Actually, like Aphex, it too is a regression of sorts. The tunes on this disc are much more akin to Funk's 2004 album "Huge Chrome Cylinder Box Unfolding"...which may not seem like a long time ago, but when you take into consideration all the releases that came in between, it puts things into perspective. I guess it kinda makes sense though, as some of the sounds here are a year and a half old now.
"Donuts" kicks things off, built around a sample of a woman repeating "donuts on a glass plate" ad nauseum. To me, it sounds a bit too much like the best stuff on "The Richard D. James Album" or old Squarepusher jams - sure it's good, but I thought we were over this? It's a quirky drum-n-bass number with wildly cascading synths and keys haunting choppy vocal samples. Not bad, but certainly not what I felt when the first (actually second, excluding the intro) track on "Rossz..." kicked in. Like having my pants pulled down in front of the entire gym class. The next song, "Swindon" also makes me think of Aphex Twin's lighter moments, particularly "IZ-US" or "Flim". The song is a touch more aggressive though, and can get positively frantic at times. "Pwntendo" as one might guess is a track made up entirely out of samples from 8-bit Nintendo games. It's a clever composition, but I'm so tired of hearing Nintendo dragged into music that I'm balking at this almost instantly.
"XIII's Dub" and "Twirl" are both druggy numbers, like being at an early-morning rave in Mario Bros. 2's dream world (you did know the whole thing was a dream, right?). The brief "P" is similar in spirits, except it sounds like live instrumentation rather than cut-ups. "Plunging Hornets" and "Tache" are more barbaric, with Funk choosing to layer kinetic breakcore rhythms over a whitewash of ambience. "Cancel", the album's 7-minute closing track, combines both of these approaches, starting off all fluttering and woozy, but quickly getting up a full head of steam with a digital techno onslaught.
Though I consider this album's far from being Funk's best, it's got enough things going on to make for an interesting coulpe of listens. And I'm not sure if I'm just not that into the album, or if "Rossz..." actually ruined Venetian Snares for me. Depends on what comes next, I suppose. Then again, what was he supposed to do? Retire? If getting back to his roots is a way for Funk to get truly inspired again, then I'm all for it. Personally I'll leave this one politely aside and wait for his next flash of brilliance, due in 8-12 weeks no doubt.