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Venetian Snares, "Winter in the Belly of a Snake"

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Planet Mu
Aaron Funk is a musical sadist, and a prolific one. His predilection for relentless, uncompromising breakbeats has gained his main musical outlet Venetian Snares a lot of cred among fans of power electronics, drum n' bass and hardcore industrial. Dubbed "drill n' bass" by people who like to name things, Venetian Snares' sound palate is not all that far from his electronic contemporaries Squarepusher and Aphex Twin. What Funk brings to the table that is original is a sense of sleazy, dark menace. All of his numerous albums thus far have a persistently violent atmosphere, with sneaky attacks of extreme, head-pounding rhythms. He is a "trickster" of sorts, beginning a track with gentle ambience or light jazz before suddenly shocking the listener with a cacophony of stuttering, pulsating drum programming and bizarre dialogue samples involving child murder, rape and cannibalism. Released earlier this year, Winter in the Belly of a Snake follows in this tradition, but is somewhat of a departure from the tried-and-true Snares formula perfected on 2001's Doll Doll Doll. There is an increased emphasis on structured songs on this outing, and with it comes the unexpected use of melody as the backbone for his typically schizophrenic beats. I am not altogether convinced that this approach really makes sense for Venetian Snares, but there are some worthy songs here. The disc opens with "Dad," a rather unconvincing ode to Funk's father that is overwhelmed by the drum programming and never really finds its footing. "Stairs Song" begins with a spooky horror-soundtrack keyboard melody that eventually evolves into a full-blown splatter of distorted beats. There are some shorter, transitional synth tracks scattered throughout the album that attempt to add to the atmosphere of menace, but are basically pointless filler. "Suffocate" finds a clipped, trebly beat and works in a surprising sample of an angelic female singer, before mutating into a dark digital dub song. Funk increases the internal drama of these songs by occasionally interrupting the beat for queasy ambient interludes, which leave the listener wondering when they will be attacked again by the sadistic rhythms. The album's most bizarre track is a cover of Danzig's "She," which sounds pretty much the same as the original. If Funk is trying to be funny with this odd choice of cover songs, he succeeds. If he's actually trying to be serious, he fails. "Sink Snow Angel" begins with a string melody reminiscent of the Kronos Quartet's theme to Requiem for a Dream but quickly turns into a nightmare of Atari-on-amphetamine digital insanity. The disc ends with its longest track, "Icosikaipent", where cold, phased metallic drum explosions keep threatening to turn into something interesting, but end up going nowhere. Winter is not a spectacular release for Aaron Funk, instead it's just another minor blip in his impressive discography. 


Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 September 2005 05:29  


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