In the past couple years, Aaron Funk has spat out music at a prolific pace that can possibly only be succeeded by Merzbow or perhaps Scott Herren under his batch of different pseudonyms. I have listened to much of what Funk has released as Venetian Snares, and while I can appreciate what he creates, I am often left cold by his work. For each album that he's put out, there is always one or two tracks that slam my ass, then another handfull that are pretty good, but the remainder seems to just pound my brain into a peaceful submission that doesn't really care to process it all after awhile.
In relative terms, Rossz Csillag Alatt Született took a little bit longer for Funk to complete, and after I'd read several places that it was easily his most melodic work yet, and that he learned to play a violin, and even some trumpet for the release, I started wondering just what tricks he had up his sleeve. As it turns out, this release is definitely at least a partial turning point for Funk as an artist, as it mixes his usual hyper-crisp beat programming with strings, horns, piano, and lots of other elements for his most musical and interesting release yet.
After the opening track of "Sikertelensëg" rolls forty seconds of dark inprovised piano noodlings, "Szerencsetlen" starts off the album proper with quick bursts of string samples that flow and dash like a horror-movie soundtrack spliced together with a chase-scene before the sweet snare-rush blasts of the familiar amen break start hammering away. As the track progresses, even more strings pile onto the mix, and delicious string scampers raise the tension even more. "Ongyilkos Vasárnap" is a reworking of a Hungarian track that Billie Holiday in turn covered, and Funk samples Holiday and sprinkles in slow, churning rhythm and some sprinklings of rhodes piano for great effect.
If you can believe it, there are tracks on the release that are completely beat-less (like the dark "Felbomlasztott Mentökocsi" and "Galamb Egyedül") and they don't feel at all out-of-place on the release. In fact, the tracks act as great breathers on a release that almost exclusively runs in the shadows. For all those wondering if the release is a complete change for Venetian Snares, rest assured that there are still plenty of mind-bending hyperactive beat workouts. "Második Galamb" opens with quick horn stabs and even some random spoken-word phrases but soon bursts into a frenetic, laser-blasting, horn & string nightmare.
Likewise, "Kétsarku Mozgalom" opens with layers of overlapping strings before cranking up into a spastic drill-and-bass attack that rises and falls and goes every which way in the course of almost eight minutes but is never, never boring. If I have one complaint about the release, it's that Funk seems to use some of the same drum programming sounds (the amen break is serviced quite well in different variations) several times during the course of the album, but given the variety of the rest of the instrumentation on the release, it's something that's not worth quibbling about. This is now the Venetian Snares release in my collection that I will most assuredly reach for nearly every time I wish to listen to something by Venetian Snares from now on. In other words, even if you haven't enjoyed his previous work, this one might do it for you.