Reviewed by Mark Martelli (Pitchfork)
Mere months after dropping Higgins Ultra Low Track Glue Funk Hits 1972-2006 on Planet µ, Aaron Funk strikes again with this little slice of audio lobotomy. Released under the moniker Vsnares, 2370894 is, in many ways, an homage to the prevailing sounds of British experimental electronic music (which could mean a whole shitload of things, really-- I'm thinking Skam, v/vm, Rephlex, etc). The album is comprised of tracks both unreleased and left over from the sessions for other Venetian Snares releases, and is a slight detour from Aaron's usual speedbreaks assault. The dark atmospherics and menace of Printf or Doll Doll Doll has been traded for a more playful, loose vibe, but despite this being an odds-and-sods sort of album, it's amazingly cohesive, and far from your standard tossed-off amalgam of half-baked leftovers.
"Fuck Toronto Jungle" and "Sybian Rock" come the closest to revisiting the established Venetian Snares sound (something like: "See that Amen break? Stick a firecracker up its ass, it's hilarious. Okay, now eat it"). With their oddly timed, warp-speed rhythmic structures, and breakbeats more sliced and diced than cucumbers on "Iron Chef", both tracks are remainders from previous Snares endeavors (Higgins and Making Orange Things, respectively). "Ornamental Grape Bone", while managing to out-shit the Shitfuckers EP in terms of rhythmic complexity, doesn't seem fully formed, coming off instead as a rough sketch study of Funk's break-neck loop editing. But that's all that's needed, really-- Funk has already proven himself a master of that particular aural domain. And for the rest of 2370894, the mission statement seems to be: what's so hard about that?
Imagine if Rephlex and Warp Records picked up and relocated to Saskatchewan. The artist himself describes his track "Twisting Ligneous", a number straight out of Tom Jenkinson's closet, as "Lee Perry forcing Stockhausen and Squarepusher to do it at gun point while giving them gasoline enemas." Premium, no unleaded, and the raga dub interlude is the cherry on top. "Happy Morning Condom Factory" takes off midway through with a chiming analog melody set to stuttering drum-n-bass that would make Aphex Twin proud. Hell, doesn't the title of the final track, a graceful, Selected Ambient Works-inspired slice of lazy heaven called "British IDM Presets Fanfare (The Hawaiian Hockey Song)" spell it out? Are ice hockey and cricket the new peanut butter and jelly? If Boards of Canada are coming to tea, they're gonna end up on a meat hook for sure.
Despite all the references and italics, 2370894 can be judged on its own merits as well. Aside from the borrowing and lending, there are sounds here that are pure Vsnares inventions. "Nobody Really Understands Anybody" blends a strange ambient wash with random kick and high hat stabs, culminating in the addition of (and someone check this for me) a crooning, echo-laden Morrissey snippet. "We Are Cesspools" is listening to an orchestral jazz number on a ketamine binge, and the 8-bit hip-hop of "Stamina (ft. Cex) (Instrumental)" is a fresh take, eschewing the styles of many American glitch-hoppers with a more basic, stripped-down approach: electro-inspired breaks and strings that sound ripped from Requiem for a Dream. The fact that I didn't have to listen to Cex's lame rhymes only made it sweeter.
So, yeah, there's lots of good stuff here. However, 2370894 still isn't up there with releases like Shitfuckers or Printf-- and most of the tracks lack the instant punch of "Breakbeat Malaria" or "Skelechairs". Still, this album is more than the sum of its parts. It's a peek at Venetian Snares on the weekend, messing around with new approaches to his sound, drinking some beers, watching TV. It's like paging through a Chris Ware sketchbook: even the rough shit is still amazing.
- Eskmo - Let Them Sing
- Ikonika - Smuck
- Geiom & Shortstuff - No Hand Signals
- Starkey - OK Luv
- Raffertie - 7th Dimension
- Ceephax Acid Crew - United Acid Emirates
- Kuedo - Dream Sequence E.P.
- Starkey - Ephemeral Exhibits
- Neil Landstrumm - Lord For £39
- Distance - Repercussions
- Last Step - 1961
- Mrs Jynx - The Standoffish Cat
- Venetian Snares - My Downfall (Original Soundtrack)
- Meat Beat Manifesto - Autoimmune
- iTAL tEK - Cyclical
- Mary Anne Hobbs - Evangeline
- Venetian Snares - Miss Balaton
- Various Production & Virus Syndicate - Apollo/Neva Argue
- Sunken Foal - Fermented Condiments
- Sunken Foal - Fallen Arches
- Venetian Snares - Detrimentalist
- The Gasman - Superlife
- Eero Johannes - Eero Johannes
- Virus Syndicate - Sick Pay