Reviewed by Mark Martelli (Pitchfork)
What can you do but duck and cover with Aaron Funk? Bomb shelters won't do you any good; your gas mask might as well be crafted from Slim Jims and bubble wrap. As the crusty leather heart of breakcore sith lord Venetian Snares, Funk drops more Fat Men per month than militant tree huggers drop acid, and every endeavor is more potent than any microdot floating around Northern Oregon.
Belying the civility of his death-penalty-lacking homeland, Venetian Snares is the musical equivalent of a chainsaw massacre in the violent offenders' wing of your local Federal Penitentiary, raw flesh and circuitry overload guaranteed. But what's most impressive is the diversity of the Snares catalogue, the natural extension of Funk's Nosferatu fingernails into the shadowy reaches of electronic music; the psychotic drifter who programmed "Skelechairs" is the same cuddly birthday clown who gave us Songs About My Cats, and Funk has been comfortable with every transition, slipping into various skins like Planet µ's very own Buffalo Bill.
Find Candace, released on the Hymen label as a companion piece to the Doll Doll Doll LP, comes two months after the highly anticipated Winter in the Belly of a Snake, an album that finds Funk stripping a few layers of dead skin from his sound to expose a bone structure ancestral to his razor-sharp cut-ups, but augmented with a more patient ear for composition and climax. Ambient passages abound, dark washes of Purgatory gray that suggest Seefeel's Ch-Vox on an ECT regiment.
The tension here is thicker here than on other Venetian Snares outings, a mortician's gloom hovering over the epic, Siberian tundra of "Gottrahmen" and the symphonic "Sink Slow Angel", whose undead pinball beats can't contain the sinister string movements gnashing their teeth just below the track's glassy surface. The unpredictably touching "Dad" features Funk on vocals, and its harrowing mantra ("I had a dream you were still alive") sticks with you like the diseased laments of a mental patient, writing letters that will never get mailed. Much has been made of the vocal tracks on this record, most notably Funk's sloshed philharmonic take on The Misfits' "She", but their presence is limited, and the fade very easily into the Venetian Snares patchwork.
What comes as the biggest surprise is the de-emphasis on low-end, which Funk has eschewed in favor of more digital-sounding breaks, fragments of fiberglass and copper wiring that flicker and surge with a nod to Autechre at their most mathematical and inorganic. So no unstable jungle or kill-n-bass attitude pops up on Winter in the Belly of a Snake, although the beautifully ugly Zen meditation "January" and the speed-freak flashback "In Quod" kick up some dust with exorcised synth melodies and accelerated PVC drumkits. The 16 tracks found here are a winding black river cutting through miles of clear-cut forest and silent abandoned farms, carrying unidentified corpses out to sea.
The dispatchers of said corpses are the heroes of Find Candace, whose mummified drill-n-bass rampages are aimed squarely at the violent predator in each and every one of us. Venetian Snares is safely within the borders of his murderous empire on Candace, dissecting jungle breaks and thick basslines, and swapping the vital organs until all terminology lines are blurred. This familiarity inflicts a small amount of damage to the record, lessening its impact by rehashing a successful attack plan; a vinyl copycat killer if ever there was one. Not essential, then (Higgins Ultra-Low Track Glue Funk Hits 1972-2006 is a much bolder take on this sound), but masochistically satisfying regardless.
The lead track, a remix of Doll Doll Doll's "Befriend a Child Killer", actually fleshes out the original's coarse and volatile loops, turning an abrasive hardcore screamer into Dieselboy for lobotomized Bad Boy Yardies. Funk frontloads Find Candace with a deceptively methodical rhythm of interlocking snares wrapped in slasher flick ambience that would have Jamie Lee Curtis begging for a toe-tag. Including the previously released "Dolleater" is a strange decision-- seeing as how we have 12 new tracks from Funk every time we blink-- and it hurts the flow of the album. "Yor", fortunately, makes amends, evolving from faulty-modem feedback to time-lapse ogre boogie in time to set things right.
The final minutes of "Yor" hint at the iron maiden solitude of Winter in the Belly of a Snake, floating by like a bitter poltergeist at midnight, but Find Candace ultimately comes in a distant second. All of the tracks are tight and hard-hitting, but they're too measured and predictable to really smash your skull against the curb. The putrid spirit of invention that informs Belly of a Snake is more exemplary of Aaron Funk's strengths, definitive evidence that this isn't some kook we have on our hands, no wanna-be Son of Sam. Our killer seems to have more purpose, handling his mutilations with a painfully steady artisan's touch. Venetian Snares is one sick and twisted menace to society, but he sure as hell is good at what he does.
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- John B & Exile - Broken Language
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- Shitmat - Full English Breakfest