Release date: June 14, 2004 | Planet Mu | Bandcamp | Facebook

In a perfect world, Aaron Funk aka Venetian Snares would need no introduction. Having built his reputation upon equal parts caustic and beautiful breakcore and IDM, Funk is one of the most revered exponents of electronic music around these days. Experimenting with modular synthesis, classical samples, and various other outside sources, he’s created a rich and perpetually astounding body of work, which will undoubtedly stand the test of time.

Today, we’re focussing on his 2004 record Huge Chrome Cylinder Box Unfolding, which turned 20 years old two weeks ago. One more and you’ll be able to have a beer, lil’ buddy! Hang in there! This record combines almost everything we’ve come to love about Venetian Snares, ranging from minimal compositions to far-out breaks.

Broc Nelson

Electronic music and I have a spotty history. My first introduction to the massive genre came in when I was firmly entrenched in rockism. I falsely believed and held to the notion that the very best music that could possibly be made could only be made by four or five people playing drums, guitar, bass, and doing vocals. Not only that, but what they sounded like live had to also be faithful to the studio recording, making any back tracks or studio effects. It is a stupid philosophy that frankly needs to go away.

So, with a few electronic based soundtracks and like Moby or something as a spring board, a friend introduced me to Aphex Twin, which is a pretty standard transition for people who mostly understood electronic music through the filter of rock and industrial. I still love Aphex Twin, but I explored some more music that didn’t stick with me as much until later on. Among those explorations was Venetian Snares.

Now, Aphex Twin has some wild and challenging music, but hearing Venetian Snares and his pioneering of breakcore, glitch, and calamitous use of evolving rhythm sounds is easily overwhelming to someone who’s primary listening was punk and 4/4 metal songs.

Thankfully, my music tastes have never been static, and an appreciation for the artistry of synthesis and electronic music grew. There was a point, about a year and a half ago, where I almost exclusively listened to various kinds of synth-based music. This was when I revisited Venetian Snares, armed with a far better grasp on and open mind to the endless possibilities of synth and computer-based music.

Huge Chrome Cylinder Box Unfolding still sounds like chaos, but when you get a sense of what is going on, that no sound is off limits, but still contained in a brilliant formula, you really get a feast for the ears. Take the simple melodies of “Cadmium Lung Jacket,” for example. There is a calmness underneath the skittering, morphing beats that gives the brain something to latch onto while glitched out subdivisions of programmed rhythms try to tear your logic centers apart.

These almost child-like melodies, full of pleasing sine waves and piano/organ sounds become more apparent on the follow-up track, “Vida,” that eventually settles into a little passage that feels like an approachable song before the twists of a few knobs and the decay of time warp us back into a wormhole of oddities.

This push and pull of dynamic of disparate sounds has become something I seek out in music. Maybe it isn’t always as extreme as Venetian Snares, but finding the beauty in a death metal song, hearing the ferocity of black metal among the beauty of ear-shattering shoegaze, the discordance and beauty that can come from free jazz, the meditative feeling that harsh noise can invoke, were all spelled out for me the first time I heard and didn’t appreciate Huge Chrome Cylinder Box Unfolding.

How could I not be enthralled by the disintegrating, distorted panning beat of “Ion Divvy” as it twists and morphs between static pulses and video game sound effects while a gentle chord progression waxes and wans like a horror movie soundtrack in the background?

This is not an album for the unadventurous. It is also quite long for its own intensity, but it stands as a masterpiece in sonic exploration. Be ready to take whatever is thrown at you. Expect the unexpected, and you will find time signatures and experimentation that outdoes any ‘rock-based’ artist out there.

Eeli Helin

Venetian Snares is easily one of the most influential and forward-thinking acts in the entirety of the experimental electronic music movement. Albeit firmly seated in the underground – and having precedented by a few, truth be told – Huge Chrome Cylinder Box Unfolding came out at exactly when it should have, shaking the breakcore/idm/glitch territories to the core. While Venetian Snares had already put out material steadily since 1998, it is here where its sole primus motor Aaron Funk truly emphasized his compositional brilliance.

Complexity and intricacy are the main motifs dictating the sonic movement Huge Chrome Cylinder Box Unfolding resides in, and there’s to this day, very few artist that come anywhere near the mindboggling polymorphous stream of consciousness exemplified on this particular record. Being within a microgenre dedicated to just that yet rising so seemingly effortlessly above many of its peers, is nothing to be shrugged off without a further thought. Yes, it is at times highly unaccessible in its difficult composure, but letting yourself get carried away into its seizure-esque realm is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have with this style of music.

”Huge Chrome Peach” opens the album up with an unbelievably weird tonalities and jarring disjointed rhythms, annexing a broken high-pitched ping pong beat with what seems like a fever dream version of some Nintendo game soundtrack, cut up and malformed beyond recognition. This thought honestly applies to the entirety of the album, even though it doesn’t limit itself to just that, either. Take something like the calm and atmospheric ”Vida”, the robotic and pulsating epic that is ”Destroy Glass Castles”, or the aberrant and relatively easy-access rhythms of ”Bent Annick” as examples of the various lengths Venetian Snares pushes itself.

There is something very sci-fi and mad scientist-like reflected on all the walls of this musical maze, and one thing it truly excels at is how it manages to continuously tickle your brain on all the right spots through out its over one hour length, and no matter how much you listen to the record, it just keeps on doing that without err, never relenting. Granted, there is so much happening here that you could study it for decades and write a few theses about it and you’d still merely scratch the surface of everything that’s going on. Every single listen is somehow fresh and you’ll notice new details every single time, while probably forgetting some in return, only to re-discover them the next time, and the viciously invigorating cycle goes on and on and on and on. And on and on. And on. Get it?

Even though breackcore is often smirked at for whatever reason, probably not in the least because of its whimsical nature, you’d be mistaken to think any of it would be tongue-in-cheek or funny in essence. Huge Chrome Cylinder Box Unfolding gets equally dead serious as it does wildly entertaining, and there’s untold degrees of value in that. Give me one example of a record that could simultaneously be a backdrop for Mario Kart from hell and the final dirge at a funeral. Can you think of one? Exactly.

Dominik Böhmer

Dominik Böhmer

Pretentious? Moi?

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