Simulacra is Aaron Novik's newest and most adventurous project to date. Building on a long career of pushing boundaries within highly varied musical styles, the metal band gets a reconfiguration and evolves into a new and intense sound form.
Inspired by the heavy chamber group, Edmund Welles, the world's only composing ensemble for bass clarinet quartet, Aaron enlisted Edmund Welles leader Cornelius Boots, to start a more "traditional" rock format, with Cornelius playing the role of the bass player on an amplified bass clarinet and Aaron playing the role of the guitarist on an amplified and distorted B flat clarinet. It may sound to you like there are guitars and basses and keyboards on this record, but these sounds were all created by using clarinets played through guitar and bass effects and amplifiers. The group is rounded out with Matthias Bossi, the drummer from Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Book of Knots, and singer Jesse Quattro from Secret Chiefs 3 and Hammers of Misfortune.
The musical innovation doesn't stop with the groups unique instrumentation. Traditional song forms and harmonies are also turned on their heads, replacing verse/chorus cliches with unexpected musical shifts. The use of voice is different as well, placing more of an emphasis on the voice as an instrument than as a lyricist. The vocals are also affected in a way that makes it hard to differentiate which parts are played by the clarinet and which parts are being sung at times to interesting effect.
Some influences on the group are Meshuggah, Mastodon, Sleepytime Gorilla Musem, 100 Lights of Koenji, and of course the classics, Metallica, Slayer, and Black Sabbath.
I want to end by saying that this is not a joke. This music is not intended to be ironic or a parody of this music style. This is a serious project and one of the most insane frightening and rewarding music I've recorded to date.
This cd features breathtaking artwork from local SF artist Shylene Roselyn, that complements the eerie beauty and darkness of the music perfectly.
SF Bay Guardian
"Depending on how much postmodernist theory you consult, "simulacrum" translates either to a cut-rate copy or a likeness so abstract it transcends reality. Accordingly, Simulacra's eponymous debut is a math-metal make-believe, in which the parts of electric bass and guitar are played by "electric clarinet" and "robot bass clarinet." (In case you miss this point, a liner note stresses "There is no guitar, bass, or keyboard on this record.") The clarinets, in their adopted roles as lead shredder and Sabbath-worthy bass, have a precise, fluid quality unlike the gritty smack of steel strings. But they impressively and unflinchingly rip up some dizzying riffs, even if the crunch of guitar-like distortion doesn't quite fool the ears. It isn't supposed to.
Listening to Simulacra feels like riding a berserk roller coaster at night or navigating that secret expert level of an especially destructive video game. Desolate, 'verbed-out vocals float out of nowhere. A pulse drives relentlessly forward only to corner an unexpected turn so hard you nearly drop your Wii. The instrumentation's not just a gimmick: Simulacra's real satisfaction derives from the way the breath driven, human imperfections in the clarinet's lines allow Aaron Novik's ambitious compositions to sidestep any of the over-braininess of prog. Of course you might not be able to decide whether to file Simulacra under metal or meta. You're not supposed to."