Fennesz Venice

[Touch; 2004]

Styles: glitch, abstract electronic, experimental electronic
Others: Tim Hecker, Jan Jelinek, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Fenn O’Berg

I'd be lying if I said the staff here at Tiny Mix Tapes wasn't drooling at the mouth to get their hands on Venice, the much anticipated follow-up to Fennesz's 2001 release, Endless Summer. And with good reason. Endless Summer was a genre-defining release if there ever was one. Opening doors musically in the world of IDM (I still get chills typing that) and exposing many music listeners to experimental music in a package extremely easy on the ears, the album deserved all the accolades it received.

So, let me start off by saying that Venice is a great album. In the hands of a lesser producer, it would be considered downright genius. It's a beautiful album that continues to demonstrate Christian Fennesz's strengths: textures, processed effects, and laptop perfection, all coated in washes of melody and harmony. "Chateau Rouge" is a perfect example of that. In fact, most of the first half of Venice showcases these qualities.

But Fennesz didn't get to the top of the experimental ladder by always treading familiar ground. The second half of Venice is where the progression takes place. Even a casual listen will give off the impression that when the fifth track "Circassian" begins, with its wall of guitar noise reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine, Venice truly takes off.

If Venice will be remembered for a few things, the fact that David Sylvain adds vocals to the eighth track, "Transit," will undoubtedly be one of them. Perfectly mixing with Fennesz's music, Sylvain's voice continues the loose partnership that the duo introduced on last year's excellent Blemish. If you got the chance to hear Live in Japan, released last year on the Headz label, you will also recognize the ninth track, "The Point of It All." It's one of the most outwardly beautiful examples off Venice. And on the closing track, "The Stone Of Impermanence," Fennesz exposes his more experimental side with a six-minute noise workout.

The fact that Venice takes a few missteps before getting into full strut inevitably takes its toll on the overall body of work. While the latter half of Venice is of the highest quality, I'm hesitant to think of Venice in the same light as Endless Summer or The Return of Fenn O'berg. Regardless, this album is highly enjoyable and a noteworthy addition to Fennesz's already strong catalog.

1. Rivers of Sand
2. Château Rouge
3. City of Light
4. Onsra
5. Circassian
6. Onsay
7. The Other Face
8. Transit
9. The Point of it All
10. Laguna
11. Asusu
12. The Stone of Impermanence