Venetian Snares: “Hajnal2”
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Hajduch: Prolific breakcore wizard Venetian Snares (Aaron Funk) is back in 2010 with his zillionth full-length, My So-Called Life. If you’re a fan, you know the deal — furious breakbeats at breakneck tempos in unusual time signatures.
This is the first release for Timesig, Snares’ new record label (apparently run as an imprint on Mike Paradinas‘ Planet Mu). Though previous releases have adhered to a specific style — the melancholy strings of My Downfall (Original Soundtrack) or the twisted gabber of Winnipeg is a Frozen Shithole — My So-Called Life is a bit more fluid in its identity.
Morrow: Yeah, the first thing that stands out to me is that it touches more bases than a typical Snares disc. To some extent, each Aaron Funk release sounds the same — usually due to using the same drum samples and beat patterns.
Despite this, he has covered a lot of ground with V. Snares, but the stylistic differences are usually contained from album to album. My So-Called Life pulls a bit more from the whole catalog, which is a welcome change. What’s up with this album title, though?
Hajduch: The promotional material for the album says that he recorded most of these tracks in a single day, and that he came to see them as little snapshots of his life, remembering how he felt that day, what was happening, and so forth. One can’t help but feel a little disappointed that for all the vocal samples, neither Jordan Catalano nor his successful novelty band, 30 Seconds to Mars, were included.
Morrow: I know that I felt shorted by the lack of angsty samples.
I got over that pretty quickly, however, thanks to “Who Wants Cake?” — a chopped homage to perhaps the greatest episode of Strangers With Candy, “Retardation: A Celebration.” It includes a sample of the politically incorrect show’s all-time greatest line, where Stephen Colbert imitates Wilford Brimley dispelling a few myths about the mentally handicapped. “First off, the retarded don’t rule the night. They don’t rule it; nobody does.” So that scores some major points.
Elsewhere, Funk displays his own warped sense of humor — particularly on the following track, “Welfare Wednesday,” where a pitch-shifted gentleman talks about doing otherwise mundane activities (like wearing a leather jacket) “in your punani.” Even Paradinas gets a shout-out in there.
Hajduch: The absence of teen drama and mid-’90s alternative is definitely made up on “Welfare Wednesday,” with its fake ragga-jungle lyrics listing all of the things that will be happening in there — including, but by no means limited to, “Intellivision basketball,” “impressive mustaches,” and “pretending I’m from London.” So, you know, there’s that.
Those who prefer the moodier side of Venetian Snares — the side brilliantly featured on Rossz Csillag Alatt Született — will be drawn to the back end of the album. “Hajnal2” is a synthier and significantly heavier take on “Hajnal,” from Rossz. “My So-Called Life,” which closes out the album, builds on a plucked-string melody, piling on the bleeps and orchestral hits until the track reaches a furious crescendo of breakbeats and bass.
It’s sophisticated and complicated and seems 180 degrees removed from some of the more jokey tracks that precede it, but it fits perfectly into how Aaron Funk’s brain works. The album is a perfect snapshot of what makes Venetian Snares tick, and if you don’t like it, I’m sure that he’ll put out something else completely different within the next six months.
Morrow: I’m one of those people; Rossz and My Downfall are two of my favorite Snares albums. And though I don’t like My So-Called Life quite as much overall, it has a lot to offer and is a great cross-section of his career.