Release Date: May 4, 2018
Record label: Planet Mu
What began as a phone call from Daniel Lanois to Venetian Snares (aka Aaron Funk) in 2014, simply to say that he was a fan, ended up in three jam sessions at Lanois's Toronto studio, more than an album's worth of material, and one of the strangest Canadian collaborations to date. All the recordings on this album are live off the floor, but it's not nearly as rough as you might think. Granted, Funk's meteoric drum patterns are enough to dizzy even the steadiest individual, but the whole affair comes off like a beautiful, symbiotic relationship.
Superproducer Daniel Lanois first expressed interest in collaborating with breakcore artist Venetian Snares (Aaron Funk) after hearing the latter's 2005 masterpiece, Rossz Csillag Alatt Született. The two musicians began recording improvised sessions in 2016, and premiered their collaboration with a 2017 live performance at The Great Hall in Toronto, which quickly sold out in advance. Their first album together is an uneasy but fascinating soundclash, with Funk's modular synthesizers and tumultuous breakbeats offset by Lanois' soothing pedal steel vistas, rather than the menacing textures or rave hallucinations usually heard on Venetian Snares recordings.
On the surface not much unites rock producer Daniel Lanois and breakcore's enfant terrible Venetian Snares, apart from mutual admiration and Canadian heritage, but this hasn't stopped them from recording a joint album that plays to both of their strengths. The collaborative formula is fairly simple: Lanois' processed steel pedal guitar creates an ambient backdrop for the Snares' hyperactive drumwork, which sounds like a continuation of the glitchy style first explored in 2004's Huge Chrome Cylinder Box Unfolding. There are a variety of moods though, as Mothors Pressroll P131 turns up the distortion for a noisy burst of energy, while the beatless Ophelius 1Stp118 closes the album with a calm comedown.
Despite the fact that pioneering electronic acts are annually left off the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ballot and few guitarists ever grace the stage at Ultra Music Festival, guitars and electronics aren't always diametrically opposed. Nile Rodgers' upstrokes helped Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" achieve ubiquity, and six-strings pop up everywhere from Boards of Canada to Ben Frost; even Pink Floyd's David Gilmour once took a trip with the Orb. So a mutual appreciation society between producer and pedal-steel conjuror Daniel Lanois and breakcore/modular synth freak Aaron Funk (aka Venetian Snares) isn't the strangest of pairings, but it's pretty damned close.
The new collaboration between Canadian musicians Daniel Lanois and Venetian Snares is simply called called Venetian Snares x Daniel Lanois. It is not abundantly clear what they were trying to achieve with this album, recorded in a former Buddhist Temple turned into a studio. Far from being zen like and contemplative, it is distinctly unsettled. At best it sounds like the earth moved and Lanois stayed on the surface creating melancholy sonic landscapes while Aaron Funk from Venetian Snares threw everything they owned into the earth's cleavage and dived in after, making strange sounds as he skidded down into the abyss.