Album review: Venetian Snares and Daniel Lanois – Venetian Snares X Daniel Lanois

Daniel Lanois and Venetian Snares (Aaron Funk) began their collaborative musical relationship around 2014, the result was this debut album released by Timesig/Planet Mu. In 2016, Funk reportedly spent time around Toronto between shows, bringing his equipment to Lanois’ studio. The sound which followed is described by its creators as a “new statement”, combining their skills to “encompass new terrains”. Read on to hear how it turned out…

Funk is hailed as one of breakcore’s innovators, a genre which has unsurprisingly always remained fairly underground. It could be described as a mutant off shoot of jungle, mixing over the top, high tempo drum edits with an IDM sensibility. Breakcore alienates many listeners with pride, but those who can appreciate the technical ability and sheer creativeness of acts such as Squarepusher or Aphex Twin, will certainly be excited to listen to this album. Lanois on the other hand, hails from a completely different side of the musical spectrum, lending his production/guitar skills to everyone from Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Brian Eno and U2. His ambient style is not one that many would expect to hear on a breakcore album, since it is a genre that often feels more at home at a rave, than on BBC 6 for example.

As many fans would expect, much of the drum work has been tackled by the aptly named Venetian Snares; the guitars you hear are of course played by Lanois. The album is even collaborative in terms of its release and distribution, choosing to partner up Funk’s own Timesig with the world renowned Planet Mu (responsible for an eclectic roster including Machinedrum, Dj Rashad, Vex’d, Om Unit, edIT to name a few). This album was in fact recorded inside a former Buddhist temple, yet there are few completely meditative tracks. Instead many of them are unsettling collisions, the sonic representation of restlessness. These jarring elements manage to combine into a sort of chaotic beauty at times, but overall those who are less familiar with Funk’s previous work may find the album tough to listen to in its entirety.

At barely two minutes in, an intense explosion of glitchy, jarring beats begin to over take Lanois Board Of Canada-esque crunchy ambience. The second track, named in a AFX code-like fashion “HpShk5050 P127”, is much more listenable. For the first half there are hints of the sonic warfare that will follow, but essentially it could be described as peaceful. There are some very human sounding melodics, that are likely to have began as guitar strings, the delicate arrangement opens up before the first, tidier drum patterns arrives. At around the halfway point, the aggravating hisses and pops of over processed drums take centre stage once again. On “Bernard Revisit P81”, Funk holds off until the closing seconds before sprinkling a handful of squelchy drums. Before that point the track sounds like a tense moment in a sci-fi horror film, fusing monstrous sound design with equally large off-key chords.

This pairing was no doubt an unlikely one, proof of opposites attracting, but regardless of the attraction the outcome is far from perfect. Unfortunately for anybody hoping to hear more of Lanois, his subtlety is usually lost, clouded by the magnitude of Venetian Snares’ more-is-more approach. The overall lack of space left creates a problem, after adding granular synthesis, modular unpredictability, jungle / IDM inspired drum repetitions, glitches, beeps, noise and other electric experimentation, there is little room for the album to breathe.

If this is the two Canadian’s first attempt at a collaborative project, then it is undoubtedly promising. There are some stunningly beautiful pieces, such as the outro, and when their musical mindsets combine well, their slip ups are forgiven completely. Do not be afraid of the intensity of Funk’s creativity here, come and see us at Richer Sounds for a demo and you will hopefully not regret it.