Simulation – Death’s Head Speaks

To be released on cassette and digitally on 6/21/19. C32 – 
Silver shell with black imprints – super-ferric stock. 2-sided 3-panel J-card with artwork by HausMo Max. This is the catalog page with album information and artwork. To view the store page, click here.

Simulation is the electronic duo of Laura Callier (a.k.a. Gel Set) and Whitney Johnson (a.k.a. Matchess). Though Callier and Johnson met in Chicago, the project formed on a joint west coast tour of both of their solo acts. After experiencing acute shared hallucinations in a seemingly haunted motel in Montana and enduring a series of show cancelations, forest fires, and other freak incidents, the duo decided to scrap their respective solo sets and play music together for their subsequent shows on the road. Johnson currently lives in Chicago, and Callier relocated from Chicago to LA in 2017. As Gel Set, Callier has released LPs with Moniker Records and 2MR, while Johnson’s Matchess recordings have appeared on labels like Trouble In Mind Records and Monofonus Press. Johnson has recorded and performed extensively with Haley Fohr’s project Circuit Des Yeux, and plays with Hausu Mountain mainstay Natalie Chami (a.k.a. TALsounds) in an improvised drone/ambient project called Damiana.

Death’s Head SpeaksSimulation’s first release with Hausu Mountain, presents the duo’s vision of combinatory songwriting animated by electro inspired beat work, ethereal vocal lines, and passages of arrhythmic electronic bursts. While nominally a “dance” project closer to the solo work of Gel Set than the drifting improvisations of Matchess, Simulation strays far from any four-on-the-floor template by virtue of the complex narratives presented by their varied sessions, and the intertwined voices highlighted within their dense productions. Any given Simulation piece will present a beat grid flecked with syncopated kicks, noise formants used as drum tones, and pounding basslines capable of sparking the dance floor into motion. Johnson’s trademark organ and synth tones serve as a melodic focal point within each groove, winding through cascading leads or laying harmonic bedrocks of chordal pads. Callier’s voice sits up front in the space of each mix as it reaches the audience in the form of hushed spoken monologues or eruptions of shouted activity. Her vocals evoke the angelic choral chants of Grouper or Julianna Barwick as much as the stentorian proclamations of dance auteurs like Marie Davidson or Boy Harsher’s Jae Matthews. As Johnson’s voice swirls around her bandmate’s, the specter of 80’s EBM or new wave pop composition floats into view for a few moments before being subsumed back into the electronic pulse.

With each track on Death’s Head SpeaksSimulation presents a wide arc that leads listeners through diverse passages of one-off vocal moments and fluidly evolving networks of synth input. Callier’s beats shift from the realm of futuristic lounge to subaquatic Drexciyan techno to skewed house workouts. The duo’s more abstract missives often crest into moments of legible pop songcraft focused around yearning vocalizations and Johnson’s rapid, major key keyboard lines that recall the minimalist style of Terry Riley. Viewing each session as a canvas on which to splash torrents of electronic texture, Simulation casts off peals of static and distortion that prod the atmosphere one step closer to a state of unease. By complicating the emotional trajectories of their sessions, the duo lays out a view of modern life equally blessed and encumbered by the capabilities of constant interconnectivity. Surrounded by their machines, casting out their words in a disfiguring electronic haze, Simulation bears witness to the transhuman evolution of humankind increasingly mediated by technology that moves in or out of step with the emotions that inform our every move.