Monday, 8 December 2008

Rossz csillag alatt született

Will Langdale is make for more with some Hungarian-sounding experimentalism for you to embarrass yourself trying to pronounce

Venetian Snares – Rossz csillag alatt született

Venetian Snares, aka Canadian Aaron Funk, is an artist notorious for his demanding music, lying somewhere between “'89-'91 summer of love”-style dance on albums such as Higgins Ultra Low Track Glue Funk Hits 1972-2006 and the experimental, harsh, speedy IDM found on Doll! doll! doll!. Rossz csillag alatt született (or “Born Under a Bad Star”), however, hits a clever medium, as he reworks Eastern European classical music with his ineffable skill at breakbeat drumwork.

The album starts low, working in such artists as Béla Bartók, but builds to the drums in a somewhat underwhelming way. The first hint of an embracing album comes with Öngyilkos vasárnap – a remix of Billie Holiday's version of Gloomy Sunday, better known as the notorious Hungarian suicide song. The track builds with glorious misery, the strange 7/4 time working beautifully despite a popular Western audience being generally adverse to the signature. Holiday's voice cuts through the unnerving, wailing synthesiser, and the following track, Felbomlasztott mentőkocsi, leads out from it to truly set the album up.

From there, Funk delves feverishly into dramatic sampled strings, piano, brass and clarinet, using Igor Stravinsky and Niccolò Paganini on Hajnal and Sir Edward Elgar in Szamár madár. One of the best pieces – and one that characterises the album's brooding ambiance and spasmodic beats – is Második galamb, prefaced by a foreboding female monologue, informing the album's artwork of pigeons taking flight. This mid-section is the real meat of the record, with the fantastic juxtaposition of Funk's sampling and rhythm creating an extremely informed hotch-potch of style.

The album comes to a head in the final two tracks, Kétsarkú mozgalom and Senki dala (Bipolar Movement and Nobody's Song). Kétsarkú mozgalom sounds as though it's leaking sadness through digital wounds, and Senki dala has a strange “for whom the bell tolls” ambiance to it, yet after a few listens they can seem somewhat lacking after the crafted brutality of the album's middle tracks. Although it rounds the pace of the album nicely, if anything, Rossz csillag alatt született falls down on its framing, despite being intensely intelligent and challenging throughout.


Code nightclub, Hull

Reviewed by Rory Stobo

Rock clubs and bars are wily beasts to master. Unlike more conventional spots which can be expected, deservedly so in the majority of cases, to be a bit more fly-by-night, those of us who like our beer with breakfast have come to expect a little more in the way of stability. New venues offering us new and exciting opportunities to wear black clothes and dance to Bohemian Rhapsody (Every. Single. Time.) come across the same problematic questions every time. Why is this new place any better than where I've spent my weekends for the past eight years, any why should I care?

It was always going to be with a little trepidation that I made my way over to Code for the first time, the week after it's grand opening night which had, by all accounts, gone quite well. Located in what used to be, I am told, a gay bar, nicely taking care of all your Judas Priest jokes, Code is far better situated for the hum-drum task of actually reaching the place than it's established rival, Spiders. You really get the feeling that there's been a fair amount of rather shrewd thought put into the location of the place. Not only is it clinging lovingly onto the bus interchange itself, it nestles snug in a bug in a rug behind, wait for it, a 24-hour Tesco. So much for your ill-concieved kebab at 3am, just stroll on in and pick yourself up some bruschetta and fine cheeses. Every little helps.

Once you get into Code, three fifty lighter and with a free drink in hand if you're a new member, you get a chance to take in the ambiance and have a scout around. The first of the club's two rooms, both on the ground floor, I explored was what I had introduced to me as the 'chillout lounge.' In a lesser club, this might suggest some kind of RnB nightmare, but here you're treated to comfortable chairs and the sound of guitar hero blasting out at varying degrees of competency from the Wii console set up on a five-foot projector in the corner. The welcome suspicion creeps in that Code cares, in the same way that Spiders used to care, before it's complacency drove most of it's DJs to jump ship and work here. Strolling into the main room only reinforces this, I won't bore you with a playlist, but suffice to say that the music policy at Code is driven by the clubgoers, not the management, and this earns big points in a social setting where it's all to easy to play the floor-fillers and quickly become stale. Ample dancefloor room, a pool table and arcade machines that actually work make this a place that really grabs the attention. Code has a very good idea of why you should care, and wishes to let you know.

The first snag in the evening comes when it's time to refill my drink. The bar staff will be more than happy to sell you a house spirit and mixer for one of your english pounds, but if your hand favours the pint glass, it's probably best to take out a mortgage first. Far be it from me to get ratarsed on gin in the name of investigative journalism, so I could tell it was going to be an expensive night. Thankfully, in an almost apologetic move, one of the bar staff routinely wander the club with a large bottle of what I suspect had tabasco sauce in it, topping up drinks hither and yon. It's the gesture that's appreciated rather than the liquor itself, but you do get the impression Code are clutching at straws when it comes to the actual drinks they serve. Spiders' cocktail list is infamous up and down the country, and it's a shame that Code couldn't have thought up at least a few to make them sweat for this victory.

Overall though, Code acquits itself well in a scene which has long struggled to rebuild credibility through variety. Okay, as I mentioned the drinks are a bit pricey if you insist on sticking to pints, and the problem with playing what people request is that sometimes people request awful songs. But, when the Spiders alternative nowadays is to drink twenty pounds worth of meths and listen to sweet home Alabama on repeat for three hours in the company of fourteen year olds, I honestly believe the odd doom metal track and a couple of pints less is a fair price to pay for progress.