My So-Called Life is the first release on the new Timesig label, a Planet Mu offshoot run by none other than King of the Break, Mr Aaron Funk. Packed full of old skool stabs, rolling amen rhythms and preposterous vocal samples about rape and 'retardation', it is a step back from more 'serious' and well-known Venetian Snares productions like My Downfall, in parts being more closely aligned with 2006's Cavalcade of Glee and Dadaist Happy Hardcore Pom Poms. Made over short space of time, it is a changeable beast and definitely a record of two halves - one being notably more obscene that the other.
Opener 'Posers and Camera Phones' has been a live favourite for a couple of years. Based on 7/4 time (a bit of a trademark), it flirts with hardcore and jungle and features vocal refrains like "I fuckin' hate you" and "I come to every club with an intention to do harm". Nice. 'Cadaverous' is similarly nasty in a funny way, incorporating pounding gabba and happy hardcore programming, cut roughly with a shedload of distortion and an aurally painful high end. 'Aaron2' explores the recesses of Funk's mind with samples like "Aaron's happiness was to end" and "Aaron's heart was full of hatred". 'Who Wants Cake' will make you laugh with its flagrant disregard for political correctness, while 'Ultraviolent Junglist' takes its name from an almost industrial precision of break manipulation.
'Welfare Wednesday' is too ridiculous to describe and perhaps a bit too far, even for Venetian Snares.
While these six tracks are among the heaviest this release has to offer, their unnerving intensity is reduced by how comically offensive they are. But Funk doesn't completely abandon the pure sinister discord of other releases on My So-Called Life, since its final four tracks are based on orchestral arrangements and growling basslines, pulling out the stops to illustrate Funk's unquestionable technical ability and uniquely twisted mind beyond conceivable doubt.
'Goodbye9, Hello10' tones the insanity down briefly, using breaks that are less over the top (kind of) to create a mix that is more spacious and melodic. Fans could be interested to hear 'Hajnal2', a punishing VIP remix that makes the original sound tame through heavily mashed-up glitches and skull-crushing pitch bends. All hints of jazz are squeezed out in favour of a cascade of snares that dominate the mix, a 'fuck you' to anyone who says they like breakcore on the basis of owning Rossz Csillag Alatt Született.
The real meaty goodness is saved till last. The title track is the product of years of methodical refinement and hard work, though it apparently took no more than two days to create. Violin and harp form a sombre backdrop and a prolonged, teasing intro to a bliztkrieg of classic Snares percussion, incorporating chiptune elements and jazzy ride cymbals to reach critical mass with an almost euphoric conclusion. As it draws to a close, we are in no doubt that the King continues to reign supreme on his throne of filth.
But despite his virtuosity and prolific creativity, Funk runs a minor risk of going stale sometime soon if he doesn't look for new modes of expression. In some ways he has been the victim of his own success. In just over ten years he has stretched and warped the genre to his means, leaving an indelible mark that many have unsuccessfully imitated, but the release of My So-Called Life is not a turning point. It proves little to those who know him well and sometimes verges on self-parody. It defends the throne but does not seek out new kingdoms to conquer and defile.
7Sam Walby's Score