Simulative is a collaborative record by electrocacoustic composer Rutger Muller and contemporary jazz bassist Bernhard Hollinger. Despite their impressive CV in their respective fields, Simulative sounds nothing like you think it should. Which is a truly wonderful thing. 

While it is rooted in electroacoustic sound design, there is no wasted moment on Simulative. No waiting to see the evolution or destruction of sound. Each note is pre-conceived and placed on a grid of slowly evolving and mutating beats that marshal all instrumentation and experimentation within a proscribed range. Working within the grid does wonders for the immediacy and bracing nature of this record. We arrive with sounds fully fleshed and formed: granular synthesis on unknowable acoustic instruments creating deep mutant tones, downtuned drones that create a murky underbelly to this entire endeavor, strings and bass processed beyond recognition, creating completely bespoke sounds and tonal combinations. The beats on this record are largely the most defining feature. Sometimes collapsing into a stuttering, crashing outline of timekeeping and others a steadily marshalled House beat of steady blasting noise and incidental metallic tones. “Self-Governing Memories” is an example of the latter. 

Having been familiar with Hollinger’s work in the past through his extended techniques on drones in different harmonic frequencies, nothing quite prepared me for the wildly cohesive and experimental approach that he took with Muller on Simulative. We are almost half way through the year, but this is one of the best albums I’ve heard all year. 

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