Simulation | Death’s Head Speaks
Hausu Mountain (CS/DL)
The electronic Chicago-based duo of Laura Callier and Whitney Johnson are Simulation and their latest, Death’s Head Speaks, is now making the rounds. The six-track recording runs for a bout a half-hour. Their sound is fresh and dramatic, voices, effects, beats – all woven with a electro-punk sensibility on Canceling/Smoothing (think a more abstract, dance-able X-Ray Spex for modern ears). When vocals are combined the patterns become truly unique within the clustered sonic mix. There are countless acts that use voice to front a sound, though Simulation has decided to use the voice as a smooth textural pattern, almost like a silky layer of paint over a series of changing objects and variables. There may be fleeting lyrics, but they are barely distinguishable (The Wind Touched Your Face). And while this toys with a pop construct, it does so from a window dressing perspective, the effect is more about the overall sheen of a work constructed from many splendored things.
In their production there are handclaps, and other old school tricks of the trade, blended into something altogether before its time, like a hybrid of the tribal beats of Siouxie and the Banshees and Tom Tom Club, the lilt of an urban vocal – almost shoegazer, just brighter, and the unexpected streaming feel of a cinematic arcade. The Reverse Can Be Said loops layers backwards and forward simultaneously. Here they offer a cheeky nod to the feminist electroclash movement, with spoken word, and warped syncopation. It’s perfectly quirky, and entirely poker-faced. Through the funky riffs and delusion comes the closer If the Light Cannot Escape. They bring a light eastern rhythm, soft buzz and wily ways together the reshape the setting into a temple of harmonic airiness. The track is gorgeous with the gentle glint of Book of Love, The Knife, Strawberry Switchblade – it’s all in there – but this is something vivid and cutting edge. A great record, end to end.