Reviewed by Luke Turner (Playlouder.com)
I've often found the world of clippeting beats made by hoodied boys and their laptop friends to be a barren one, populated by scientific types who like to keep things as closed as a sanitised laboratory. I've found the blips and flicks to neither burn with a cauterised evil, nor to display any humanity - it's always felt like an alien existence, in which precision instruments are removed from velvet cases and played with by a self-regarding elite.
But while it'd still give your maiden aunt the collywobbles should this ever sneak onto Classic FM, Aaron Funk's new journeys in sound with 'Rossz Csillag Alatt Született' have a more pastoral bent. It all arises from a trip Funk took to Hungary, where he apparently had an epiphany that he really ought to think of himself as a pigeon flying above the eastern European landscape.
But does Funk achieve his sleeve-stated aim of creating a record of "love songs and grief songs"?
Not exactly. While there's aching sadness and flicks of exuberance a-plenty, it feels largely that the purer, human emotion is most effectively delivered through the dextrous strings and their arrangements than via Funk's TerrorLord electronics. Yet That's not to say that he doesn't achieve his goals in other ways.
To me, it feels as if Funk engages with the human psyche in a more oblique fashion. He paints a highly visual sonic landscape, that feels directed more at creating cinematic evocation of strange terrain, than directly engaging with raw emotion.
Much of the structure here comes from beats akin to the amplified sound of a load of hasty termites rebuilding their mound after particularly hefty aardvark attack, all itchy splits and high frequency blasts off into deep dark space. But this exists, like airbourne views of harsh rocky peaks poking up through miles of glacier and snow, amidst strings, operatics and not-quite-wistful female vocals.
This creates a pronounced cinematic feel to 'Rossz Csillag Alatt Született', with an almost Bond-like sensation to the urgency of 'Szerencsétlen'. So 'Hiszékeny' does have the kind of plinking they whack in films when they're trying to capture someone's wild-eyed wonder at New York in snow, 'Kétsarkú Mozgalom' begins with the voice of a single violin playing in lonely lament, before it's eventually over-run by bangs and clicks, upleasant and angular flips of noise. It feels like witnessing some old and ill animal being surround and brought down by wolves, staining the blood red after days of relentless pursuit. 'Hajnal', meanwhile, is akin to a tumultuous ride down meltwater-swollen rapids.
A strange record, then, where man, machine and the natural world all collide, and circle each other warily without finding either certainty or hope.
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