Venetian Snares - Cavalcade of Glee and Dadaist Happy Pom Poms
After reviewing an earlier album of Venetian Snares' titled Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett
, and fixating on how he (Aaron Funk) expanded his pitch-based material instead of his beat-based material, it'd be easy to make some logical progression that he can now release albums that blend the best of both worlds, but that's not the case after listening to Cavalcade of Glee and Dadaist Happy Pom Poms
(which will now be referred to as COGADHPP
). I can't tell if his more tangential, Hungarian-themed Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett
was a diversion and an experiment, meant to be a project, or if it was really a next logical step forward. COGADHPP
doesn't commit to either or those two rationales, and if anything leads me to believe the former, because on the surface this album sounds like most of his others, with a focus on the beat and by having mostly electronic background music, but I like to think there is some progression that shows the twofold forward movement of both beat and melody. This album hints at that progression, but its manifestation is not obvious, and may even be illusory.
For one, the emphasis is definitely back on the beat. The beats are crazy focused and varied. Particularly on songs like "Pwntendo" and "Vache," there are a freaking galaxy of little blips and glitches that are difficult to take in as individual sounds but overall give the songs their frantic energy. Also, instead of having more natural snare and cymbal sounds, he completely embraces a range of inorganic sounds like the Nintendo samples on "Pwntendo" and synthesized Rhodes piano noises on "Cancel." Also, as if consciously making his beats more abstruse and challenging, there are a lot of oddball time signatures, giving crazy flows to even crazier beats. "Cancel" and "Twirl" indulge greatly in a 10/8 feel, and both songs have some of the more dissonant and harsh background harmonies, amping up the intensity even more.
However, as maybe one would infer from his complementary pairing of asymmetric time signatures and grinding dissonances, there's an elegance of matches sounds and pitches that may be suspect on other records. This album is definitely a step up from some of his other "inorganic" offerings of the past, like the awkward heavy yet open percussion mixed with lightly dabbled electronica flairs of Huge Chrome Cylinder
(see the song "Huge Chrome Peach"). On this album there are no moments that make me question the pairing, because they all flow very smoothy, or I guess, very juttingly and harshly, based on the desired effect. I feel like COGADHPP
benefitted from the expansion into pitched territory that occurred on Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett
, in that it didn't necessarily change Vsnares' approach to collecting material and in creating flavors in his songs, but it ingrained an x-factor that always yields tasteful matchings of beats and harmonies, that may have been lacking on other albums.
There is more evidence for this case all over the album. His overall album structure reflects a willingness to lay off at certain moments and allow songs time to build up before becoming really intense. "Plunging Hornets" takes over a quart of its run time to promp the background motif before launching into an actual breakbeat. Tracks like "XIII's Dub" and "P" are much more laid back than his others, allowing "P"'s beatless ambience to prep the listener for the final, and very aggressive track of "Cancel" (which also uses its first quarter to build tension with artificial flute trills before unleashing its breakbeat), and allowing "XIII's Dub"'s creepy atmosphere to cast a slower, more unsettling pall over the album in between really fast breakbeaten tracks. Also, zooming into a microcosmic level, I just prefer his tone and beat choices on a lot of songs. "Pwntendo" is wonderfully kitschy with its invocation of 8-bit noises. Overall, I feel this album, though it in general uses harsher and more aggressive sounds than those found in some albums, is able to maintain a wide variety of tones (jumping from harsh and dark on the opener "Donuts" to smooth on the very next one "Swindon") very casually, as if to round out the album, which as a Venetian Snares one, is invariably going to be weird and fringe. Though this album is no masterpiece, it contains a wider spectrum of sounds, tones, and flavors compared to previous Venetian Snares albums, and feels like a progression, even if mostly in the electronic, beat-based way and via harsher, crazier sounds.
Recommended Tracks: Swindon, Plunging Hornets, Twirl, Cancel