Review by: Tom Hadrian Kovalevsky
Album assigned by: Eric Pember
On Wednesdays, I walk a blind friend of mine home from school. A few weeks ago, the main road was far too congested for us to take – cars swelling up on the main road, while children of every imaginable side took up the path, swarming around each other, shouting and mewling, throwing non-threatening punches at each other, which would only lead to her getting irritated and bashing at their ankles with her cane; it would have been a terrible idea through and through – so we take a back road instead, which would have still gotten us to the library she lived above, with a mere addition of 5 minutes to the walk.
As we are about to cross the road, we lock arms, and I ask her if she is familiar with a musician who operates under the name of Venetian Snares. “That’s a kind of blind. Fairly stupid name for an artist, don’t you think?”. Her reply comes out quickly, seething with dislike. “So you have?”
“I suppose. What I have heard; that album with the Hungarian title” – which is obviously Rossz csillag alatt született – “is not very good; not in terms of the other electronic music i’ve heard anyway. It tries too hard to be dark; do you know what the track titles mean?” “What don’t you like about it? I’d say that the sampling is at least terribly beautiful -“
She tramples a few dead leaves on the pavement and accidentally lurches forwards, then laughs in an impossibly self-aware manner. “Nevermind”. It wouldn’t have been the first time it has happened with her; she is constantly laughing about the incident with the shopping trolley, the countless times her friends have gotten too distracted by their surroundings and let her run into metal poles, and so on and so forth. The list goes on without end, and the various scratches and marks and scars she has from these incidents, cropping up in such unexpected places – a small, barely noticeable line on her right arm running up from the thumb, a notch on her forehead, the slight limp she retains from the time she fractured her ankle – are reminiscent of the jarring unexpected elements of the album, cropping up against a pointillistic orchestral canvas, jarring and ugly and marring what could be thought of as a thing of beauty, completely separate from what it’s meant to be-
which is probably the intended effect.
I think again about the human comparison again. The asphalt on the road is sizzling and the cicadas blare their hideous natural rhythm into the air, where it echoes into the sky, around the buildings, rather like a drone; shrill and staccato, almost like breakbeats. My friend curls her hand around the soft plastic tip of her cane anxiously, and asks me rather curtly what I think about what happened to Allison – of course. She’s a well liked girl, always the shining star of parties, gladly delighting and indulging in drugs, sex, teenage excesses, the things we’re both meant and not meant to do during these years, but she has fallen to the most tragic mistake of all; that of human carelessness, having run into a car a few weeks ago.
Allison’s in a hospital bed at this moment most likely, and her skin has probably lost the thick orange tincture it’s gained from spray-tanning; but she’s surrounded by gifts and flowers and the cards of well-wishers, so she’ll be fine, no doubt. I saw it myself. It’s nothing serious, but there’s something mortifying about the closeness to death; she dragged her fingers along the sepulchre’s lips, kissed its calcified forehead — and that is the truth about Rossz csillag alatt született. For that moment of grim realisation in both her eyes and those of the driver; when she looked up, and aware that she had no hope of getting away, still stooped before the car’s head, and upon impact, splayed upon the bonnet – eyes wide open, mouth agape, with strands of artificially blonde hair, running around and into it like rivers into a sea, as she bent further backwards and onto the shining red hulk of the car, somehow sensing in a vapid way that the hours spent on her eyebrows and eyelashes, and the money spent on her nails – she might be a corpse, but by god, no matter what it took, she’d need to be the most attractive one at the morgue, come hell or high water she would be – before resting tragically upon the car’s bonnet with minor yet grave injury – like a martyr, a plastic religious icon. The impact of something conventionally beautiful, coming to a grave and ugly collision with a metallic monolith, relentless and complex. That is what the album is about, the clashing of delicacy and bluntness. That is the connection I share with it.
It is such an odd bird, I must not let it fly away.
My friend sneezes. We’re at the library.