The Surreal Funfair – the musical machinations of solo artist Sir Eel Van Vehr (aka, Sascha Beyer) – creates music for existential, and perhaps unnervingly realistic spaces (like the mechanical, rusting doomscapes exhaling whistling steam in your brain; like the laser-pointing analog synth notes implying Kraftwerk and a cyclic, preprogrammed life lived with eyes forever closed; and the broken cities where technological utopias once gleamed, now replaced with ashen dunes of curling steel, and the buried, once-pristine super-limbs of AI-guided automatons).
In a Very Loud Environment, The Surreal Funfair’s latest collection, creates music – creates environments – for the kind of beautiful, formerly chrome, now utterly charred things and ideas mentioned above. Let’s take a look at a few examples to support this somewhat extensive (and excessively descriptive) synopsis.
Album opener “For No Certain Reason” starts with a chugging train – it slowly fades out while a glacial, Mellotron-ish synth fades in. (It’s important to note The Surreal Funfair uses very little sampling – it’s all vintage [or vintage-sounding] synths with the occasional use of vibraphone, trumpet, Wagner tuba, guitar, bass, field recordings, violin, and clarinet.) This is a great track that sets the stage for a collection of environment-shaping electronic music.
Track #3, “Waiting,” is a Kraftwerk/Gary Numan hybrid with great Moog-ish steaming and sputtering; it’s mechanical with vintage-synth squirts and hissing data streams. And the chorus adds an apprehensive female vocal into the song’s assembly line calculus.
Track #4, “A1,” is a softer thing – a respite with uncluttered, mid-range Moog-ish notes above plucked string splashes; a break from hard, towering metals scraping, churning, and collapsing.
“Memo” is random busy voices, and then a deeply sad, wavering piano; it’s a more formal song and effective lament. And when the voice kicks in, I’m reminded of Roger Waters’ rich lower register over melancholic chords and panning, synth-twisted effects. The singing throughout this album, in general, is less singing and more an in-key account from a disenfranchised witness.
The anger/disillusionment is front and center on “Eat Propaganda.” With driving, steam-shooting percussion and a lamenting Mellotron chorus, “Eat Propaganda” lays bare the narrator’s awareness of unyielding social futility.
Track #9, “Cold Cell,” with its sustained, higher register Moog, is also a robotic lamentation with the accompanying sounds of scraping, sputtering gears. The man in the machine is self-aware, and not very fond of his metallic predicament.
And the finale, “End,” is softer, airier – a combination of whispering piano and gentle strings. Is this acceptance of one’s predicament? Has man and machine made amends? Or, is this the numbing indignity of man, once again, made compliant in his servitude?
This album? It’s something special; a collection of hands-on, analog electronica painting a musical picture of man’s perhaps dire, more mechanically infused future. It’s an orchestra of electric notes, scraping metal, and collapsing or wrongly evolving ethics. In a Very Loud Environment is indeed epic, or perhaps man’s final epic, and I strongly encourage an immediate listen (before you no longer experience the conviction to do so).
BELOW: Listen to The Surreal Funfair and check him out on Bandcamp and Facebook. Please support The Surreal Funfair by visiting him online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing his music. And, as always, thank you for supporting real music.
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