Fennesz - Venice

Artwork and photography by Jon Wozencroft
Cut by Jason at Transition
Featuring David Sylvian and Burkhard Stangl
Special 10th anniversary limited edition

Track listing:

A
The Future Will Be Different
Rivers of Sand
Chateau Rouge

B
City of Light
Onsra
Circassian (guitar: Burkhard Stangl)
Onsay
The Other Face

C
Transit (vocals: David Sylvian)
The Point of It All

D
Laguna
Asusu
The Stone of Impermanence
Tree

The Future Will Be Different and Tree complete the Venice sessions in one release… "Venice" was recorded on location in the summer of 2003 and subsequently assembled and mixed at Amann Studios, Vienna in January/February 2004.

"Venice", the fourth studio album by Christain Fennesz, finds electronic music at a crossroads between its early status as digital subculture, and the feeling that there has to be something more, an emotional quality that rises above noise and moves towards melody and rapture.

It was voted No. 3 in The Top 50, The Wire, December 2004, was album of the week at BBCi on its release and remains Christian Fennesz’s best-selling record to date. prefix (USA) noted: "Although Fennesz's breakout record Endless Summer was followed by a live release and a collaboration with Jim O'Rourke and Peter Rehberg as Fenn O'Berg, Venice is the true heir to that album's ascendant pop. Venice is not as unabashedly poppy as its predecessor (the lack of Beach Boys references can attest to that), but still mines much the same vein. It was marked by critics at the time as a move away from the relatively robotic music spawned by the IDM craze of the late nineties. Instead, its melodic, emotive tracks foresaw an electronic music that could be purely human.”

Pitchfork Media (USA), in a lengthy review, also noted: "Venice's quality extends beyond its sound. Touch proprietor Jon Wozencroft-- through his breathtaking design and photography - continues to fight the good fight against records-as-pure-data by making the CD a value-added prospect.” and The Declaration Online (Web): "Two blue empty row boats left listless on rippling water. Red orange green riverbed foliage reflected in the water's gauzy oil slick surface. An airport enveloped in dull gray stratus and snow. Upon seeing the photography and packaging accompanying Christian Fennesz's latest recording, Venice, it is clear that the record label Touch remains intent on not simply putting out records but creating audiovisual imprints dedicated to inextricably tying sound and vision."

Reviews:

Other Music (USA):

Touch releases this special 10th anniversary edition of Venice, the fourth studio album from Christian Fennesz, available for the first time ever on vinyl, pressed on double LP and housed in a gatefold sleeve. As we wrote at the time of its release: "Venice sees Fennesz focusing on the sound of the electric guitar, extending its palette through various digital processing techniques... While Venice may not be as immediate as some of Fennesz's previous efforts, its combination of somber haunting melodies and grainy texture illuminates a space where simple, somewhat catchy guitar playing wontedly coexists with the din of contemporary computer manipulations which is further illustrated by Jon Wozencraft's beautiful cover photographs documenting human interaction and manipulation of nature.

Highlights include 'Transit,' a stunning collaboration with David Sylvian that continues where their fantastic duo track on Sylvian's recent album Blemish left off. Situated directly in the middle of a mostly subdued listening experience 'Transit' literally bursts out of the speakers accentuating the album's more pop-like characteristics as well as its more restrained moments."

Norman Records (UK):

Christian Fennesz is a true romantic. He recorded 'Venice' on location, and the music he created betrays his love for its natural beauty, its unique position in the world and the sheer vastness of the place -- the sustained synths sound like water ebbing and flowing, curling up against the edge of canal beds and then returning. The guitars he uses, too, are only processed so they can sound more rustic, another part of this landscape that always feels gorgeously ancient. If Fennesz was trying to capture the natural beauty of this place, he succeeded: his electronica always had an emotive force, but on 'Venice' it was as if he were trying to extract that and put it in an empty place: boats and water as his protagonists, it never felt like this soundscape was meant for humans. The artwork on the back of 'Venice' feels like a sly wink to that. Unlike the beautiful front cover, it puts reality in front of the listener, showing a snowy Venetian airport runway and a couple security guards. Fennesz has to recognise the people of 'Venice' occasionally, but they're not what he came there for.

The influence 'Venice' has had, with the textural heights it reached, is phenomenal: I can hear these gasping electronics in so much of what's recorded now, and it feels like another chapter in which Fennesz was able to reconcile white noise and sonic assaults with beautified and ambient-leaning electronica. The ominous drone of "City of Light" feels ingrained into the minds of artists like Josh Mason, while the furious and gorgeous noise of "Onsra" feels like the key to unlocking Deerhunter's "Ink" compositions on 'Cryptograms'. Even the gasping processed sounds that mull around the record's edges feel strangely predictive of the blustery beauty Oneohtrix Point Never would go on to create. And though he worked in his own special realm -- processed guitars, electronic haze and a handy laptop to lean over -- Fennesz managed to conjure a feeling that artists have been trying to get back for years: one that's about truly recreating where you where in the world and what you wanted from it when you made your music. On 'Venice', the city is his. [Robin]

Babadu (Russia):

"Venice", the fourth studio album by Christain Fennesz, finds electronic music at a crossroads between its early status as digital subculture, and the feeling that there has to be something more, an emotional quality that rises above noise and moves towards melody and rapture. It was voted No. 3 in The Top 50, The Wire, December 2004, was album of the week at BBCi on its release and remains Christian Fennesz's best-selling record to date. prefix (USA) noted: "Although Fennesz's breakout record Endless Summer was followed by a live release and a collaboration with Jim O'Rourke and Peter Rehberg as Fenn O'Berg, Venice is the true heir to that album's ascendant pop. Venice is not as unabashedly poppy as its predecessor (the lack of Beach Boys references can attest to that), but still mines much the same vein. It was marked by critics at the time as a move away from the relatively robotic music spawned by the IDM craze of the late nineties. Instead, its melodic, emotive tracks foresaw an electronic music that could be purely human." Pitchfork Media (USA), in a lengthy review, also noted: "Venice's quality extends beyond its sound. Touch proprietor Jon Wozencroft-- through his breathtaking design and photography - continues to fight the good fight against records-as-pure-data by making the CD a value-added prospect." and The Declaration Online (Web): "Two blue empty row boats left listless on rippling water. Red orange green riverbed foliage reflected in the water's gauzy oil slick surface. An airport enveloped in dull gray stratus and snow. Upon seeing the photography and packaging accompanying Christian Fennesz's latest recording, Venice, it is clear that the record label Touch remains intent on not simply putting out records but creating audiovisual imprints dedicated to inextricably tying sound and vision."

*10th Anniversary Edition with two bonus tracks "The Future Will Be Different" and "Tree"* 'Venice' was the follow up to the groundbreaking 'Endless Summer', a record with a legendary pedigree and with sales substantial enough to have shaken up its label. Musically, 'Venice' is a much more varied affair, reflected by the contrasting imagery in the cover photography. Check the heartbreak melancholy of the opener 'Rivers Of Sand' to the somewhat playful 'Chateau Rouge', the freeze framed longing of 'City Of Light' and 'Circassian' featuring the searing guitar of Burkhard Stangl. The justifiable hyped up collaboration with David Sylvian is as you'd expect, upfront confessional lyrics behind the buzz and hum of plucked electrical wirings and trapped angels -. My personal favourite is 'The Point Of It All' which has the most beautiful harmonies you'll have heard close up all year plus the tempo and mood shifts. The most brutal track on display 'The Stone Of Impermanence' rounds out this collection in a pure rush of ear splitting intensity but still with that essential melodic undergrowth.

Boomkat (UK):

'Venice' is the official follow up to the groundbreaking 'Endless Summer', a record with a legendary pedigree and with sales substantial enough to have shaken up its label (Mego) to the extent that they seem to have been on a mission ever since to keep it as difficult as it gets. It seems Touch has no such hangs up. This is an amazing album that will no doubt come to be as highly regarded as 'Endless Summer' though musically its a much more varied affair, reflected by the contrasting imagery in the digipak photography (an old and new rowing boat moored up / nature and classic architecture reflected through water / an ice bound airport / an evening shot of a weir). Check the heartbreak rushing melancholy of the opener 'Rivers Of Sand' to the somewhat playful 'Chateau Rouge' then the freeze framed longing of 'City Of Light'. 'Circassian' featuring the searing guitar of Burkhard Stangl will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. The justifiable hyped up collaboration with David Sylvian is as you'd expect, upfront confessional lyrics behind the buzz and hum of plucked electrical wirings and trapped angels - amazing. My personal favourite is 'The Point Of It All' which has the most beautiful harmonies you'll have heard close up all year plus the tempo and mood shifts. The most brutal track on display 'The Stone Of Impermanence' rounds out this collection in a pure Mego rush of ear splitting intensity but still with that essential Fennesz melodic undergrowth. This is one essential album - truly life enhancing music.

Aquarius Records (USA):

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 Blemish album, and has even earned him a curious forthcoming collaboration with Sparklehorse! Venice is his fourth studio album and clearly stands as his best work to date. 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 shoegazer'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 shoegazer music and replicates it perfectly behind a light dusting of digital pixels.

The one track which gives us pause on Venice is the single collaboration with David Sylvian. While this track on its own works as good if not better than anything on their aforementioned Blemish album, it sticks out like sore thumb against the sublimely textured ambience which dominates the remainder of the record. Here on the double lp redux of Venice, Fennesz had the sense to lead the second lp with that track, thus remedying much of the disconnect found with the cd listening experience. Venice stood as one of the finest electronic albums of 2001; 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.



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