Reviewed by Ali Burge (Thermostat)
Someone should start a campaign against literal album titles; I’m getting fed up buying records called things like “5 EPs” and “With Voices”. Thankfully Venetian Snares has never had trouble coming up with inventive album titles, with gems such as Huge Chrome Cylinder Box Unfolding, Chocolate Wheelchair and Make Orange Things nestled amongst his discography. Cavalcade of Glee and Dadaist Happy Hardcore Pom Poms continues this line of thought, not only needing to be abbreviated into an almost meaningless acronym wherever it is written (COGADHHPP, fact fans), but also because there is very little Happy Hardcore in its 10 tracks, Dadaist or not.
What is perhaps most surprising is that here we are in June, and this is Venetian Snares’ (real name Aaron Funk) first album of the year. At this point last year, he was already onto his 3rd release of the year in Meathole (which saw much rehashing of earlier work), having started the year with Winnipeg Is a Frozen Shithole on Sublight and followed with the sublime Rossz Csillag Alatt Született. Rossz… showed a real shift in direction for Venetian Snares, heralding the introduction of a viola, played by Funk no less, and something resembling melodic structure. Cavalcade… falls somewhere between the maturity of Rossz… and the more traditional, for Venetian Snares at least, crazy breaks and bass of Winnipeg….
Beginning with a track called ‘Donuts’, which itself begins as a lesson in what could be loosely called Minimalist Breakcore, many of the elements that made Chocolate Wheelchair such a good album are present and correct here, especially the ‘hold and release’ method of laying down breaks. ‘Donuts’ is busy, high in BPM and pulsing bass but resists the temptation to embrace the noise Funk so often deploys. Continuing his theme of musical takes on cities around the world, ‘Swindon’ (a city I assure you never, ever want to visit) actually reflects very well on its real life namesake. The ethereality seen on Rossz… is here used to overlay a sense of calm on top of magnificent fast breaks which for once subside into extended breakdowns. ‘Pwntendo’ predictably uses 8bit Gameboy sounds to great effect and, like ‘X111’s Dub’, gives a clear indication that glitch is very definitely in the house; it is ‘X111’s Dub’ that comes closest to the sound of Rossz…, sans viola of course. ‘Vache’ marks the entrance of Hardcore into the proceedings, putting down beat after beat on top of thudding bass whilst ‘Plunging Hornets’ sounds something like I imagine Ryuichi Sakamoto would if he ever took up the dark arts practised by the likes of Venetian Snares.
Cavalcade… represents a perfection of the ‘Snares sound; here the beats, the bass, the electronics and all the other elements he has been using throughout his career are boiled into their purest forms and combined. The album features neither the relentless Hardcore/Breakcore of much of Funk’s oeuvre nor the orchestral beauty of Rossz…; neither of these extremes is present, but the transitions that Funk has made through them undoubtedly influence the sound of Cavalcade…. Overall, the album has an immense air of maturity, as if Aaron Funk has seen the benefit in not constantly pushing each sound to its most extreme outcome. This album isn’t going to suddenly make Venetian Snares an attraction proposition for most people, but it promises to herald a new golden age of electronic music.
- 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