[16 May 2007]
After the sweeping glory of the opening of the last Venetian Snares EP, Hospitality—which quoted directly from the New Age Playbook with deep ambient pads, jabs of East-Asianish percussive melody, and even, yes, some traces of cosmic voices, all before getting down to the important business of full-on celestial demolition—I guess I was just hoping for more from the latest effort. Pink + Green, out now on Sublight, is a Venetian Snares EP, so of course it’s technically better than 90 percent of the breakcore being released right now, but it stumbles in crucial ways, especially when viewed under the harsh light of expectation. Winnipeg’s Aaron Funk has proven his ability to push his own limits to such an extent now that when he stands still, it’s all the more jarring.
The new EP seems to be unified by general rave/dancefloor blueprints, or as close to such as Funk’s syncopated, off-time jackhammer of a percussion section will allow. We’ve heard this sort of thing before, and the only differences this time around are a vague smoothing of some of the more abrasive edges and adherence to the turn-of-the-century drum-and-bass tradition of including a V.I.P. mix of the title track. That mix, with its crisp (though still perhaps the disc’s most breakneck) drum programming and eviscerating tech-step bassline, fares the best of the bunch, especially by de-emphasizing the original mix’s grating processed vocals, giving them something closer to background-sample status. Furthermore, the track’s gradual build and lapses into ambiance more accurately mimic classic tech step pacing, underscoring just how far Funk is pushing the formulas. The original mix, which kicks off the EP, seems to be clutching at a similar sort of dark dancefloor status, but without the sleek sense of effortlessness. And whatever success the track manages tends to be overridden by the overbearing vocals pushed front and center for much of the track, forced out in front as the main course when they should have been used as garnish. Messy and out of place, the questionable vocal work just makes me fondly remember the lightly applied vocals of the first Sublight EP title track, “Horse and Goat”, or even the weird murmur of “Beverly’s Potatoe Orchestra”, from the aforementioned Hospitality.
Subsequent tracks follow rote Venetian Snares patterns of PCP-fueled jungle programming (as on the unnecessary additional Pink + Green version of “Nutimik”, perhaps the most non-descript Snares track in the last two years) or, on the Doll Doll Doll outtake closer, thorough gabber bludgeoning. Most of these songs would be reasonably impressive in a vacuum (or, assuredly, to new listeners) and the EP would, I suppose, serve as a serviceable primer of some key Snares techniques. But within the ever-evolving continuum of Snares releases, against the lush backdrop of the last EP, Pink + Green comes off as reactionary and phoned-in. Such are the stakes of success. Aaron Funk, we know you can do better and we can’t wait for you to prove it.