Venetian Snares

My So-Called Life

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There's something to offend just about everyone on Aaron Funk's latest album as Venetian Snares. If you're a social conservative who doesn't like the "F" word, you'll want to skip past the first two tracks: the Baroque-flavored keyboard licks on "Posers and Camera Phones" are (probably ironically) offset by some genuinely nasty vocal samples, as are the queasy synths and chugging breakbeats of "Cadaverous." And if you're more inclined toward liberal political correctness, you're sure to be displeased by "Who Wants Cake," in which an unnamed woman is repeatedly referred to as "retarded." With those tracks out of the way, sensitive listeners can relax; that is, until the superhumanly fast breakbeats of "Ultraviolent Junglist" hit you like a bullet in the side of the head, or "Aaron2," with its crazily bouncing beats, grumbling bassline, and a synth line that sounds like it's wringing its hands with anxiety. "Welfare Wednesday" brings a bit of reggae deejay flavor to the mix, and "Sound Burglar" adds a blend of chopped-and-screwed hip-hop and dancehall MC flavor. But best of all is the album-closing title track, which is grimly brilliant: "My So-called Life" involves the most disciplined use of breakbeats, which skitter and pound within a fine and subdued harmonic matrix provided by a rather resigned-sounding string section. Not quite drill-n-bass, but well beyond the boundaries of traditional jungle, Venetian Snares' peculiar brand of drum'n'bass beat freakery remains something of a mystery, but one that continues to be worthy of investigation.

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