Venetian Snares: A User Guide of Dubious Value That’s Slightly Not Safe For Work

Someone who isn’t into Venetian Snares would probably say “hey all these albums sound the same” – a regrettable lapse of attention to detail but understandable considering the circumstances under which these details were lapsed, regrettably.There’s a distinction to be made between individual albums, but Aaron Funk’s overall sound is generally fast and abrasive, with a noticeable twist away from the breakcore body at large by getting around any kind of longstanding groove. The time signatures are slightly off, and songs move to a herky pulse.

It’s a detail-heavy sound, like intricately-assembled grindcore tends to have. But even the more straightforward albums, like Winnipeg is a Frozen Shithole and Huge Chrome Cylinder Box Unfolding have little alleyways to get lost in. It’s a bit like the musical equivalent of sand painting; now you see me, now you don’t.

A brief aside: The Trevor Brown covers throw a few people off, to be sure. Obviously the whole point of that particular exercise, but on the other hand you could spend a few hours staring at the cover for Cavalcade of Glee and Dadaist Happy Hardcore Pom Poms. The titles are the usual oblique hoot, with a few exceptions.

Assuming you still have no idea what I’m talking about, I recommend trying the following method. Get a copy of Rossz csillag alatt született – wikipedia will tell you what the title means if you care, and the album art is show here above the break – and if you dig that, then you should probably dig a bit deeper. Rossz has a neat reconfiguring of Billie Holiday’s version of “Gloomy Sunday.” It’s not ha ha neat but genuinely neat and you could probably play it on a roadtrip with few comments outside of “hey turn that down a bit” because these albums tend to be mastered in the tradition of the Muslimgauze school; i.e. making everything as loud as possible. If you are ok with what you hear, there’s a few ways to go. Buying random albums isn’t such a bad idea (it’s what I’ve done the last five years or so) but Winnipeg is a Frozen Shithole is a good place to start. It’s the most “gabbery” of his albums, but also one of the most straightforward. No really crazy time signatures and good solid hooks to grab onto.

This is as good a time as any to step aside and mention what I mean by “hook” in the context of spastic music that falls into the general umbrella of “breakcore,” as good and bad a name as any. A really fast breaks piece will have something resembling a traditional hook, that is a groove and swing that gets a-body a-movin’. The thing about Venetian Snares is that “hooks” in this sense is shortened severely, measured in seconds rather than bars. It’s not uncontrolled, but a thousand vectors all closing in at once tends to overwhelm the ears, giving the impression of being attacked by a series of angry machines made out of screaming animal parts (or something suitably surreal and grotesque).

Spend a few minutes listening to the samples up on bleep.com and you’ll get the general idea.

Ok so concurrently you pick up Find Candace and despite the horrible child murder pedo cover you find a whole slew of weird styles, ambient metal bits followed up by grindy gabber beats and his usual spazz-chop-blarp arrangements. This basically covers all the basic frameworks, so the remaining question is how much of an interest you have in hearing variations on the theme of louder-faster-hard-softer-weirder-quieter-louder-faster-quiet-loud- fast-fa-fa-fa- ffffffffffffffffffffffffffff ffffffffffffffffffffff ffffffffffffffffff fffffffffffffffffffff fffffffffffffffffff

Ahem.

A few points:

Higgins Ultra Low Track Glue Funk Hits 1972–2006 is a definite early favorite, having a bit more depth and a hell of a lot more recognizable hooks than Songs About My Cats but without the sad edge of Winter in the Belly of a Snake. Huge Chrome Cylinder Box Unfolding is a lot like Chiastic Slide-era Autechre. Horse and Goat is better than Pink + Green and the Calvacade of Glee… album has “Pwntendo,” the best chiptunes song you’ll ever hear. (Ed.: This user is generally bigoted against chiptunes and should be regarded as possessing a deep sanity and overwhelming sanctimony.)

Nymphomatriarch has a great title and theoretically sex sounds should make for great samples but outside of “Blood on the Rope” it’s actually pretty crappy. Best of wishes to Hecate and all but in all honesty with a name like that you know there’s trouble ahead.

The skeptical mythical naysayer mentioned in the first paragraph might say “It’s all just random noise! How can you tell if something like this is sad? ” I dunno man, I use my ears and make judgments just like everyone else. What the living fuck do you do when you listen to something? Stick a carrot up your ass and dance for the nice man like a good trained monkey who wants his nice civilized banana? Is this some kinda joke question? Why do you like the color blue? Sometimes you just do. It’s intricate and endlessly absorbing and good for what ails me sometimes.

I mean I feel like being a jerk about a lot of things but I generally have the good taste to keep it to myself, or more reasonably, I ask someone something about the music that I am just not feeling (like one of those poor kids whose nerves don’t work) so I can get a feel-by-proxy. A peek inside ye olde soul, if you like. Sometimes I fail and for those moments I’m sorry; for every “oh god get a load of these hosers!” only to be answered with a half-embarrassed, half-angry “they’re my favorite band/second cousin who was born that way and we’re proud of her you fucking asshole”; I realize not everyone cares and I try to be mindful of that fact, though it often slips. Again, I am sorry.

Why? Because even something gawdawful has something interesting about it for those who care enough to answer such questions, right? I mean be reasonable and don’t subject the man to a 15 minute dissertation on why this particular 30 second snatch of sound is so paradigm-ass-slaptacular, ’cause that’s what blogs are for, but instead open your ears to the question contained therein.

The spoken question is “why?”

The subtextual question is “how?”

The reflexive answer is “why not? how not?”

The underlying emotional-territorial statement is “you are different than I.”

Beyond that is interesting stuff.

vsnares.com

venetiansnares.com

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Venetian Snares: A User Guide of Dubious Value That’s Slightly Not Safe For Work

  1. scratchmonkey

    Ah, now I feel better about liking (some of) The Ramones.

    I realize this would cause you to rip out your hair if you had any; this too will pass.

  2. dr_dog

    My main beef with Snares is that he focuses on mangling beats instead of writing songs. For every Venetian Snares tune that works and sounds tight and awesome, there are 5 others that are just the same slicing and dicing to my ears.

  3. i can see that, though i don’t agree. slicing and dicing is his thing; sort of like how buckethead is a dude with a guitar and some kind of horrible mental illness.

  4. Pingback: Autechre Live @ Music Hall of Williamsburg (April 15) « here there be rodents

  5. flannerus

    Basically for you who think his shit is too cut up or “intense”, think of his work as Autechre/Aphex Twin/Squarepusher dance, but with heavy metal. He’s darker, more like the drunken mosh pit at a GWAR concert than happy pom pom dance party, and as complicated and gnarly as some of his stuff is, he still has a bottom line of “FUCK it”. So don’t be afraid, just realize that being headfucked every once in a while isn’t something to fear; consider yourself a lot stronger if you can listen to Snares on psychedelics…it’s just music people, it’s not gonna hurt you.

  6. touchingtheelephant

    I think my favourite by V Snares would be the Infolepsy EP. Worth it for the track “Twelve” alone.

  7. a lot of his work has a grindcore-like quality to it.

    agoraphobic nosebleed is an interesting match. similar sense of humor as well.

  8. Pingback: Dreadfully Obvious Classics #2 - Selected Ambient Works Volume 2 « here there be rodents

  9. monopolyphonic

    I’ve always been skeptical of people who dismiss music of any kind as being “just noise”, even when the music is exactly that. Simply identifying it as such (true or not), is to miss the point completely. The question that you should be asking (as you pointed out) is “what emotional response does this elicit in me?”

    Merzbow’s “Pulse Demon”, although essentially an unending tidal wave of noises, works my emotional spectrum with clockwork precision every time I listen to it. When that album’s playing, I’ll be fearful one second, filled with dread the next, then elated, then anxious, then…

    This is why bands like Venetian Snares are important; by going against the grain of traditional musical aesthetics, they force us to examine how music affects us more thoroughly, if we’ll only take the time to do so.

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