Prior to getting this release I must admit that my knowledge of the music of Venetian Snares was limited, I was definitely aware of the band but I had only previously heard one compilation track. Likewise with Speedranch, I was aware more of their reputation than of their actual music again having only heard a few tracks by them and Jansky Noise. Having said that I was sufficiently interested to pick up this recent collaborative release. As far as I can tell from the information surrounding the release the collaboration has taken place over the internet with the artists involved swapping files via ICQ. The resultant sound from the collaboration is definitely not a subtle one that seems to combine elements I would associate with both artists.
From the outset the music and dynamic of this release is very fast and not without a certain digital punk attitude, from the cut-up construction of sound to distorted samples the overall aim definitely seems to be about getting into the face of the listener and demanding that attention be paid. It certainly ensures that this is not an album for all tastes but I personally found the approach to be quite appealing not least because there does seem to be something of a wry smile underlying a good deal of the music.
The component parts of this accelerated sound are ultra-fast beats, disjointed samples, distorted shouts of vocal, stabs of synth that squeal with resonance and the occasional bout of plunderphony. These components are then stitched together in an almost haphazard manner but one that I suspect is more than deliberate. Indeed, if this structure was not so carefully constructed to be so precisely random then I suspect that much of the appeal would be lost. For example, a fair amount of the beat work in this release could be likened to the ultra fast electronic poundings of the gabba scene. But where gabba would tend to bludgeon through the repetition of the beats, this album never lets the beat continue long enough to become so obvious instead making its point in that ferocity then moving on before the listener has a chance to acclimatise let alone become bored with that particular beat.
With an album that is as demanding as this one it is almost inevitable that there are both high and low points though I do feel the high are much more common. Taking stock of the lows firstly, there is the occasional slide into noisier territory that is a shade too formless for me. This is especially apparent on Pay Me For Sex where the track never really develops past the initial movements, but also on the final track of the album Halfway Up The Stairway Of Mucus where the main focus seems to be on a melody that is the bastard son of Stairway To Heaven that never seems to move beyond that idea.
Of the high points of the album the obvious stand out track for me is Unborn Baby. Whilst the majority of the piece could be described as "typical" of this release the track steps off the accelerator midway through to move into an almost laid back groove punctuated with shrill bursts of synthesis before moving back into more known waters. Also of note is Cheatin which again displays key characteristics of the album as a whole but this time distinguishing itself by being the only track on the album that I would say even remotely manages to stay on course long enough to become danceable.
In considering the album as a whole I do conclude that it is one I have enjoyed a lot, but it is also one that I am aware is going to rub a lot of people up the wrong way. Perhaps those that enjoy it will enjoy it very much, but I suspect also that for those that don't appreciate what the artists are trying to achieve this could be nigh on unlistenable.
- Various - The Cosmic Forces Of Mu
- Venetian Snares - Defluxion
- Venetian Snares & Speedranch - Making Orange Things
- Joseph Nothing - Dummy Variations
- Hrvatski - Swarm & Dither
- Mu Allstars - Criminal
- Hellfish & Producer - Constant Mutation (Mixed)
- Leafcutter John - Microcontact
- Nicole Elmer - Beef Bouilion
- Tim Tetlow - Beauty Walks A Razor's Edge
- Phthalocyanine - 25 Tracks Fer 1 Track
- Leafcutter John - Concourse E.E.P.
- Luke Vibert - '95-'99
- Jega - Geometry
- Capitol K - Roadeater E.P.
- Kid Spatula - Full Sunken Breaks
- Jega & Kid Spatula - Unity Gain / Hard Love
- Capitol K - Sounds Of The Empire
- Slag Boom Van Loon - So Soon
- Tusken Raiders - The Motorbike Track
- Slag Boom Van Loon - Slag Boom Van Loon
- Jega - Spectrum
- Horse Opera - 3 Cornered Room
- Capitol K - Island Row