Venetian Snares x Daniel Lanois – s/t (Planet Mu)
For most of his career, Daniel Lanois has been known for making evocative, atmospheric music. Sure, he rocks out occasionally and flirts with abrasive tones, but generally speaking, listening to a Lanois record is an immersive, soothing experience.
Not this one.
Venetian Snares is the work of Winnipeg’s Aaron Funk, a wildly prolific electronic producer whose work is full of skittering beats, sometimes seemingly arrhythmic, which underscore often harsh tones that are sculpted into unusual melodies. It’s immersive, all right, but it’s far from soothing.
Both men are sonic innovators several generations apart. The idea of a collaboration is certainly intriguing. Except that they don’t appear to be working together at all. We hear Lanois’s sonically treated pedal-steel guitar throughout, but, with rare exceptions, it usually fades into the background underneath Funk’s punishing musical maelstroms, which can feel like being slapped upside the head with an old videogame console. There is little to no interplay, no sense that Lanois is responding to the chaos around him, no sense that Funk is even beginning to adapt his uncompromising vision to play well with others.
There’s a bit of a rich irony in that: Lanois’s detractors will argue that the legendary producer subdues the sound of every artist he works with—arguably, records like Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind or Emmylou Harris’s Wrecking Ball are more Lanois records than they are the work of the two greats in question—so it’s somewhat satisfying to see him get pushed around by some young whippersnapper (which, come to think of it, is a good descriptor for Funk’s approach to beatmaking). The tension rarely produces results, but when it does it simply hints at larger possibilities (“Bernard Revisit P81,” “Best P54).
Otherwise, it sounds like grandpa is playing meditatively by himself in the attic while the toddler trashes the kitchen. (May 4)
Stream: “HpShk5050 P127,” “Bernard Revisit P81,” “Best P54”