Fennesz - Venice 2xLP
Christian Fennesz' 2001 album Endless Summer firmly established him as one of the electronic avant-garde's greats with his delirious balance of hotwired digital glitches and a nostalgic revisitation of summery pop sensibilities. The assimilation of overloaded digital filtering technologies and guitar driven song fragments has continued to be Fennesz' strongest asset through his celebrated arrangements for David Sylvian's 2003 Blemish album and a collaborative effort with Sparklehorse. According to Asphodel's Naut Humon, Venice was almost a doomed project, as Fennesz' hard drive crashed less than a month before he needed to deliver the record to Touch. With about a quarter of the album salvageable, he scrambled to reassemble the album from memory. While it's hard to say if this time constraint benefited or detracted from his process, the album itself is stunningly good. Just as Endless Summer channelled the acid fried spirit of Brian Wilson, Venice also finds itself an album with a muse: Kevin Shields. There have always been short-circuited elements of My Bloody Valentine shot from Fennesz' tricked out guitar sound, but Venice pushes Fennesz affection for shoegaze's bucolic atmospheres and sublime melodies to the forefront with marvelous results. Each song appears to be nerve-rattlingly familiar; yet just as Endless Summer invoked Brian Wilson without ever resorting to self-conscious quotation, each of his tracks glides along the same oceanic currents authored by Slowdive, AR Kane, Ride, Loveliescrushing and The Cocteau Twins. Again, no direct references can be heard in Venice, rather Fennesz taps directly into the hopelessly romantic sentimentality of shoegazing and replicates it perfectly behind a light dusting of digital pixels. Venice stood as one of the finest electronic albums of 2004; and it's still an excellent album a decade later, now fleshed out in its 10th Anniversary vinyl edition with two short bonus tracks of pastoral, pixelated blur, "The Future Will Be Different" and "Tree", presumably recorded at the same time.