When I began hearing new music by an artist called Cosmin TRG, I didn’t quite connect the dots that this might be the same artist as the garage-infused dubstepper TRG. There’s no real reason I should have. Cosmin Nicolae’s new TRG exists in a completely different earspace from those jittery early singles, which spanned just about every hot dubstep label one can name (Hessle Audio, Tempa, Rush Hour, Hotflush, Hemlock, Subway, et al.). One could speculate about whether his strategy is long-term survival or a genuine change of heart, but his heart now seems to have landed in Berlin—the Romanian-born London native recently relocated there—by way of Detroit.
Simulat reminds me most immediately of Shed, a backwards-looking artist whose simple structures betrayed the complex issues at play. The album is not as immediately vexing as The Traveller, though. With manageable time lengths, lush melodies, and less experimental tactics, Simulat won’t cause the head-scratching masses to immediately turn off. It has repeat value too, particularly on tracks like the subterranean light show “Want You to Be”, the tense wavering of “Osue Xen” and the reflective sheen of “Less of Me, More of You”. In fact, the album only missteps when it’s pushing its edge too hard. Cosmin is not comfortable enough in this zone yet to turn a genre on its head. The opening offbeat converses of “Ritmat” are meant to sound disorienting, but seem a bit sloppy instead. The cleverly named “Interstellar Inflight Entertainment” attempts to cause some cognitive dissonance by having the connection time-out mid-flight, but leaves the listener wondering whether the mix itself is corrupted or whether he or she is just being jerked around.
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