Winnipeg, Canada's Aaron Funk, aka Venetian Snares, creates über-sophisticated, frenetically schizoid beat programming over eerie electronic soundscapes and simple, toy piano melodies. To say that Funk's newest offering, Huge Chrome Cylinder Box Unfolding, is "busy" would be a severe understatement. On headphones, the ideal vehicle for the aural delivery of this type of music, the intricacy of the beats is positively stunning. Perhaps "technical drill-and-bass" might be an acceptable term for this musical sub-genre, based on Funk's inventiveness, skill, and craftsman-like programming precision.
Funk's hyper-kinetic beat programming is truly both prodigious and relentless. From the very start, Venetian Snares' attack rivals and perhaps one-ups some of the most ambitious beat programming from Aphex Twin's Richard James. The blurb in the press kit describes the album as "futuristic synthetic breakcore," which, to my ears, is as apt a description as any. Eerie and insectile, the album's drill-and-bass onslaught pays no heed to any type of traditional song structure or time signature, except in the most superficial way.
Droning, atmospheric keyboards and eerie harpsichord-like sounds help to offset and dilute the intensity of the beats slightly, adding depth and character to the tracks. Funk's ambience and melody attempt to impose structure on the arrhythmic, unstructured nature of the beats; while the tinkling electronics, simple melodies, and ambient synthesizer pads attempt to anchor this music to something warm and organic, bringing order to the chaos. But like robot technology gone awry, the skittery, frittering mutant rhythms seem to overtake the music, insinuating themselves into it like cancerous fractals.
Despite Funk's awe-inspiring technique, Huge Chrome Cylinder Box Unfolding becomes somewhat formulaic and predictable by the time it's halfway through. Sticking to one's formula is not necessarily a bad thing, but when your game is as fractured and aggressive as that of Venetian Snares, it can be a bit much to digest in one sitting. Aaron Funk's skills are virtually unmatched by anybody in the drill-and-bass/IDM/glitch genre, but at 13 long tracks, Huge Chrome Cylinder Box Unfolding is a record that is best broken up and consumed in small doses.
1. Huge Chrome Peach
3. Cadmium Lung Jacket
5. Coke Ajax
7. Ion Divvy
9. Nineteen 1319
10. Destroy Glass Castles
12. Bent Annick