It has been 16 years since Aaron Funk first appeared as Venetian Snares on a split cassette he released with DJ Fishead titled Eat Shit and Die. Whether by accident or by design, that title turned out to be an almost perfect slogan for Funk’s music over the next decade and a half. His absolute dedication to intensity, choice of subject matter, and juvenile sense of humor have always added up to unnerving, hilarious and sometimes just plain disturbing records, filled with warp speed tempos, oddball samples, and a smorgasbord of unlikely references, from serial killers and sexual violence to Star Trek and Dadaism. Whether he’s serious about it all or hiding a smirk behind the world’s staunchest poker face isn’t clear, but he’s never broken character.
Instead, Funk has consistently raised the ante in one way or another: by tossing Trevor Brown’s beaten and molested dolls onto numerous album covers, or by making music from noises captured while having sex with his then-girlfriend Rachael Kozak, or in the case of Filth, by poking fun at his own perverse predilections with song titles like “Crashing the Yogurt Truck” and “Chainsaw Fellatio.” It’s all been unapologetically idiotic and exciting.
And, at times, despondent and beautiful too, as with Rossz Csillag Alatt Született andMy Downfall (Original Soundtrack). But even Funk’s more muted, less obscenely hostile material shivers with an irascible energy, as if everything he does could erupt at any minute into a storm of nuclear snare rolls and leaden bass kicks, or at least into a cloud of gnarly dissonance. That is what makes Poemss, the first fruits of his collaboration with fellow Canadian Joanne Pollock, such a shocker. Funk hasn’t exactly gone soft, but his always dependable aggression has been put away in favor of something altogether stranger: a collection of delicate instrumentals and catchy pop songs with lyrics about ancient pony hair follicles, glass organs and tenderness.