Music

Venetian Snares: My Downfall (Original Soundtrack)

As with its predecessor, My Downfall is a meticulous exercise in constructing intricate and expansive classical music, then inundating the results in heavy drum and bass programming.


Venetian Snares

My Downfall

Subtitle: Original Soundtrack
Label: Planet Mu
US Release Date: 2007-10-09
UK Release Date: 2007-10-08
Amazon
iTunes

Two years after the landmark breakcore symphony of Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett, Winnipeg's Aaron Funk has returned with a proper follow-up. Naturally, it's not the first Venetian Snares release since then: he has maintained his usual hectic schedule with two EPs, two LPs, a 10" and, arguably, the ambiguously authored Last Step album in the interim. But as for the confirmed full-lengths, the pitch-black gabber assault of Meathole was more properly a continuation of the "evil" sounds of Doll Doll Doll and Find Candace, and Cavalcade of Glee and Dadaist Happy Hardcore Pom-Poms was more of a playful digression, combining some of Rossz's orchestral composition with the furious drum programming and amusing sampling forays of past efforts like Chocolate Wheelchair. For a return to the cinematic darkness and grandeur of Rossz, possibly Funk's greatest achievement to date, we had to wait for My Downfall.

As with its predecessor, My Downfall is a meticulous exercise in constructing intricate and expansive classical music from some indistinguishable combination of careful sample manipulation and live instrumentation, then inundating the results in heavy drum and bass programming. Funk's purely classical forays, of which there are many percussionless examples displayed here, tend to either reprise the sounds of Rossz, majestic and steeped in melancholy (opener "Colorless", which has the distinction of introducing the choir motifs that appear throughout the album), or, in a departure closer to a few of Funk's unaccompanied piano pieces of the past, to be choppy and joltingly dissonant (much of the "Hollo Utca" series). The new album also differs slightly from its predecessor in the complete lack of sampled voice, and in a slightly heavier use of overt electronics, bringing in a few synthetic melodies beyond simply Rossz's hard-stepping basslines. The drum programming itself should be familiar, seemingly derived, as before, almost entirely from a frenetic Venetian Snares take on classic jungle programming and the amen break, without resorting to his usual arsenal of distorted gabber drums or sharpened metallic noise. The final difference is simply one of focus: My Downfall live up to its tongue-in-cheek Original Sountrack designation with a heavier focus on the percussionless pieces, 10 of 14 to Rossz's five of 11.

Venetian Snares, as indicated by the very moniker, has long been concerned primarily with drums, so the instrumental focus here is somewhat surprising. Indeed, while he continues to be one of the finest drum-programmers in the business, Funk's instrumentals tend to be skillful exercises in seamless sample manipulation, but probably wouldn't hold listeners' attention on their own. This is not to say that there's anything wrong with them. "Colorless" serves as a fine mood-setting introduction, and "Room 379" moves gracefully from bleak choir to grandly sweeping march in under two minutes. But they've got to meet tough expectations after the integrated orchestral beauty and spine-snapping percussive assaults we've heard before.

Fittingly, it is "Integraation" that most effectively speaks for the four drum-driven tracks. After a slow opening, the first breaks leap in over ascending strings and the arrangement begins an insatiable process of ramping up. This is mostly done through increasingly more devastating bass synth, each new line more distorted than the last, yet still never overpowering the other elements. It's like Rossz's "Masodik Galamb", except without ever giving way to complete gabber overkill. "The Hopeless Pursuit of Remission" introduces crisp acid lines to the mix without ever overlooking its orchestrations, but still tends to add little to the templates set by Rossz. Those acid designs get picked up more skillfully later in the brooding "My Half", which is also punctuated by sharp vinyl cuts and discordant stabs of synth. The fourth and final appearance of Venetian Snares' eponymous element are on "My Crutch", which manages some of the disc's stronger melodic themes. Together, these four highlights would make a solid 12". Here they get a little lost in the instrumentals and may inspire judicious use of the skip button.

My Downfall, though a welcome continuation of Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett, lacks the full epochal freshness of that album's innovations, and tends to obscure them a little in somewhat less striking material. A few elements have been added, a few removed, but on the whole it's fairly familiar ground. Still, removed from the expectations created by Rossz, it's a masterful synthesis of aggression and beauty. Removed from the expectations of being a Venetian Snares album, it's nearly unbelievable. New listeners would be advised to start with Rossz, but they should hardly be underwhelmed were they to enter with the latest. Old listeners should be well-satisfied, if not driven to the same fever pitch of two years prior, but I suppose that's the role rightfully occupied by career pinnacles: to be frequently referenced, and rarely matched.

7
Music
Music

Billy Corgan Brainwashed Me: '90s Alternative Rock and the Introspective Abyss

Once in its thrall, these days I find the overriding message of '90s alt-rock especially naïve and even dangerous.

Music

Coronavirus Tunes: A Brief Playlist for Our Times of Self-Isolation

As coronavirus spreads throughout the world and many of us hunker down with online media, we offer eight songs that share our feeling of seclusion.

Music

Jennah Barry Offers Up a Warm, Sublime Collection of Memorable Tunes on 'Holiday'

Canadian indie folkster Jennah Barry returns with her long-awaited sophomore album, Holiday, which takes on a looser, more relaxed approach.

Music

Maria McKee Puts Down Her Electric Guitar and Picks up Dante on 'La Vita Nuova'

"Show Me Heaven" was another country. Maria McKee has moved to England, immersed herself in the Classics and turned away from the 21st century.

Music

PopMatters Seeks Music Critics and Essayists

If you're a smart, historically-minded music critic or essayist, let your voice be heard by the quality readership of PopMatters.

Music

Fotocrime's '80s-Inspired Rock Is Often Half-Baked

Fotocrime's South of Heaven is interesting mostly in that it's one of the most mediocre rock records I've heard in a long time.

Music

Salsa Band LPT Hints at the Genre's Future

LPT's debut album, Sin Parar, hits all the right notes for a contemporary salsa album.

Music

The Killers - "Caution" (Singles Going Steady)

The Killers go for the big hooks and singable anthems on "Caution", but opinion is sharply divided about the song's merits amongst our Singles Going Steady panel.

Books
Books

Phuc Tran's Existential Trip of a Memoir, 'Sigh, Gone'

Phuc Tran's smart, tough memoir, Sigh, Gone, might launch a broken down kid to read 150 great books—for free, at the local library.

Books

Classic Shōjo Today: Moto Hagio's 'The Poe Clan'

Moto Hagio's The Poe Clan manga series a gender-fluid melodrama marked by deep psychological trauma.

Books

John Pham's ​J​&K​​ - It's a Matter of Perspective

In J&K, John Pham explores perspectives in the psychological sense. Like Picasso, he views things from more than one angle.

Books

The American Robot: A Cultural History [By the Book]

In The American Robot, Dustin A. Abnet explores how robots have not only conceptually connected but literally embodied some of the most critical questions in modern culture, as seen in this excerpt from chapter 5 "Building the Slaves of Tomorrow", courtesy of University of Chicago Press.

Dustin A. Abnet
Film
Film

The Road to Murder in Love and War: Three Films from Claude Chabrol

The character's in Claude Chabrol's The Third Lover, Line of Demarcation, and The Champagne Murders are obsessively doubled and mirrored, reflecting and refracting their hunger for sex, love, money, and power.

Film

'Memento' Is the Movie of the Attention Economy

We are afraid of time, and so like Leonard in Memento, we kill it, compulsively and indiscriminately.

Film

What Lurks Beneath: 'Jaws' and Political Leadership in the Time of COVID-19

Boris Johnson admires the Mayor in Spielberg's Jaws. Remember him? He was the guy who wouldn't close the beaches -- and sacrifice that revenue source -- during a public crisis.

Film

'The Serpent's Egg' Marks One of Ingmar Bergman's Strangest Efforts

The Serpent's Egg bares many of the Bergman's trademark features – the suffocating auras of despair and an underdog's sense of triumph over tragedy – but falls short of a more intelligent rendering of human drama.

Recent
Music

The Killers - "Caution" (Singles Going Steady)

The Killers go for the big hooks and singable anthems on "Caution", but opinion is sharply divided about the song's merits amongst our Singles Going Steady panel.

Music

Lilly Hiatt - "Some Kind of Drug" (Singles Going Steady)

Lilly Hiatt sings about a different kind of love on "Some Kind of Drug". Hers is for a city and the impact gentrification has had its soul.

Music

There's Never Enough Time for Folk Music's James Elkington

The sometimes Wilco and Richard Thompson sideman, in-demand producer, and songwriter, James Elkington, muses on why it's taking longer than he expects to achieve more in a week than most of us get done in a lifetime.

Music

Billy Corgan Brainwashed Me: '90s Alternative Rock and the Introspective Abyss

Once in its thrall, these days I find the overriding message of '90s alt-rock especially naïve and even dangerous.

Books

Classic Shōjo Today: Moto Hagio's 'The Poe Clan'

Moto Hagio's The Poe Clan manga series a gender-fluid melodrama marked by deep psychological trauma.

Music

Salsa Band LPT Hints at the Genre's Future

LPT's debut album, Sin Parar, hits all the right notes for a contemporary salsa album.

Music

Jennah Barry Offers Up a Warm, Sublime Collection of Memorable Tunes on 'Holiday'

Canadian indie folkster Jennah Barry returns with her long-awaited sophomore album, Holiday, which takes on a looser, more relaxed approach.

Music

Fotocrime's '80s-Inspired Rock Is Often Half-Baked

Fotocrime's South of Heaven is interesting mostly in that it's one of the most mediocre rock records I've heard in a long time.

Music

Maria McKee Puts Down Her Electric Guitar and Picks up Dante on 'La Vita Nuova'

"Show Me Heaven" was another country. Maria McKee has moved to England, immersed herself in the Classics and turned away from the 21st century.

Books

Phuc Tran's Existential Trip of a Memoir, 'Sigh, Gone'

Phuc Tran's smart, tough memoir, Sigh, Gone, might launch a broken down kid to read 150 great books—for free, at the local library.

Music

Weeks Island's 'Droste' Is a New High Water Mark in Ambient Steel (EP stream) (premiere)

Lost Bayou Ramblers' Jonny Campos turns up as Weeks Island with Brian Eno/Cluster-inspired music straight from the bayou. Hear Droste in full ahead of its release on Friday.

Music

Ireland's Junk Drawer Share New Krautrock Meets Post-Punk Song, "Temporary Day" (premiere)

Junk Drawer's "Temporary Day" is a simple yet compelling video for a gripping song that shows why the band have earned such acclaim in their native Ireland.

Books

John Pham's ​J​&K​​ - It's a Matter of Perspective

In J&K, John Pham explores perspectives in the psychological sense. Like Picasso, he views things from more than one angle.

Music

Miranda Lambert - "Bluebird" (Singles Going Steady)

Miranda Lambert sings her blues the way an artist paints with them on her latest single, "Bluebird".

Music

'Stone Crush' Proves (Again) That Memphis Is Ground Zero for Soul and R&B

Stone Crush shines a light on the forgotten -- or never known -- artists that passed through the doors of Memphis' most storied studios in an attempt at just one fleeting moment of fame.

Music

Circles Around the Sun Shoot for the Stars on New Album

Jamrockers Circles Around the Sun's self-titled third album finds the band transcending darkness after losing their founder in 2019 to chart a groovy new course.

Music

Jazz's Kandace Springs Pays Tribute to 'The Women Who Raised Me'

Singer and pianist Kandace Springs tackles a dozen songs associated with her jazz vocal heroes, and the combination of simplicity and sincerity is winning.

Music

Coronavirus Tunes: A Brief Playlist for Our Times of Self-Isolation

As coronavirus spreads throughout the world and many of us hunker down with online media, we offer eight songs that share our feeling of seclusion.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.