Another year, another Venetian Snares album. The twelth, I believe. Nothing to get excited about, surely? Wrong. "Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett" is fucking awesome, easily the best thing of his I've ever heard. Maybe even one of the finest long-players in the history of IDM/electronica, though time will be the judge of that. In terms of both technical accomplishment and sheer emotional gravity, it's got to be one of the most profound artistic statements to emerge in recent years. The album's mood and theme were inspired by a trip to Hungary whilst on a European tour. I'm not entirely sure what the theme actually is, but it definitely involves pigeons. What is clear however, is that Aaron Funk was possessed by something and has been unaccountably changed by his experiences.
The thing that's most obviously striking when you first play the album is the remarkable orchestral arrangements, painstakingly constructed from samples but also live electric violin, which Funk learned to play especially for this project. I haven't been this gobsmacked by electronically generated 'classical' music since the late '80s heyday of The Young Gods. Anyone who remembers the first time they heard "La Fille De La Mort" or "Les Enfants" might appreciate the delicious sensations on offer here. Another view would be that this album unlocks the potential within Aphex Twin's "Boy/Girl Song", combining breakcore dynamics with solid, inspired composition, and takes it to the next level.
A lot of Funk's recent output has been so far 'out there' sonically that it was hard to imagine where else he could go. In that sense, this album is almost 'back to basics' , featuring less of the strange digital textures, preferring a clean 'traditional' symphonic palette, occasionally augmented by mentasmish synth riffs and a lot more straightforward Amen breakage than I'd become accustomed to, plus the breaks are far less convoluted than usual - there's an underlying almost danceable groove that's as much to do with the euphoric surge of classic Remarc as anything dreamt up by Squarepusher. The focus is now on dramatic, sweeping emotional intensity, channeled straight to the heart, rather than the head.
"These are love songs and grief songs" writes Funk on the sleeve notes. I believe him. Anyone who thinks that IDM is a spent force needs to hear this album - it will stop you in your tracks.