- Following Cosmin Nicolae through his unusually winding career has been fun, from his 2-step feats on Hessle Audio to his dubstep throwdowns on Subway to his bulldozing garage turn on Tempa. He's now flourishing in is his most recent guise, making (mostly) techno on Modeselektor's 50 Weapons label. I use the word mostly because Nicolae's version of techno is hardly purist, with snatches of colour lashing out from his tunes, and garage influences popping up in the form of a very slight swing.
Opener "Amor Y Otros" drizzles synth melodies on top of a warehouse calibre kick. The garage influence comes in the form of the flit and the flutter around those kicks, making the beefy 4/4 sound a whole lot more complex than it really is. Similar to "Amor," "Want You to Be" scribbles between the lines with meandering chords and "Ritmat" throws in an exuberant melody not too far off from the 2-step revival he's since distanced himself from.
The record also abandons the idea of techno as purely marathon bouts of repetition—the longest tracks on Simulat are just upwards of five minutes, and most of the record is divided into easily digestible chunks. The album's back half sees an influx of choppy, IDM-indebted rhythms: "Lillasyster," for instance, sounds like Sepalcure crossed with classic AFX. While the slight shift of gears is at first jarring, the diversity only makes the album stronger. Indeed, every track is packed to the brim with personality. It's hard to imagine the ever-twinkling "Less Of Me, More Of You" or the phased, panicked mania of "Osu Xen" coming from anyone else.
Fittingly, the album ends not in drifting waves of ambience or an epic blow-out but instead with another fidgety four minute techno flail. Simulat stays grounded and focused on pumping out techno-tinged bangers (with brief interludes) for 45 minutes. It also happens to be the best music of his career so far. It's impossible to guess where he'll go next, but with this kind of track record we can probably expect it to be nothing short of fantastic.
01. Amor Y Otros
03. Infinite Helsinki
04. Want You To Be
05. Interstellar Inflight Entertainment
07. Star Motel
08. Less Of Me, More Of You
09. Osu Xen
12. Form Over Function