New York’s ever-vibrant creative music underground features a crop of composers—Mary Halvorson and Tyshawn Sorey foremost among them—whose heady visions have altered the landscape. On Simulacra, on-the-rise Brooklyn-based drummer/composer Colin Hinton takes his cues from Sorey, to stunning compositional and improvisatory effect. Mind-bogglingly, it’s only Hinton’s second release as bandleader; he debuted in 2018 with the self-released Glassbath.
While Sorey doesn’t appear on Simulacra, his influence looms large over the program, and, as the liner notes attest, he’s both mentor and inspiration to Hinton (specifically inspiring the piece “Breath”). Simulacra subscribes to no particular genre. It’s a 65-minute shapeshifting tour de force, indebted as much to experimental composers Morton Feldman, Alexander Scriabin, and Eric Wubbels as to avant-garde jazz maestros Anthony Braxton, Muhal Richard Abrams, and Ingrid Laubrock—all of whom Hinton points to as inspirations.
Name-dropping aside, Hinton and his fleet group comprising Anna Webber (tenor saxophone, flutes), Yuma Uesaka (tenor saxophone, clarinets), Edward Gavitt (electric and acoustic guitars), and Shawn Lovato (bass) stands on its own. With a wide sonic vocabulary and a deep instrumental arsenal (add in Hinton on percussion, glockenspiel, and gongs), Simulacra’s six densely layered marathons are free-floating, visceral, and cerebral, all at the same time.
Within Hinton’s expansive vistas lie foundations that can’t be pinpointed. “Obversify” and “What Was,” two mutating compositions that eclipse the 18-minute mark, furiously zig and zag with blitzes of harmonic beauty and gritty abstraction. Can this be filed under new music? Modern classical? Minimalism? Jazz? The answer is all of the above.
What Hinton has created will appeal to enthusiasts of Sorey’s sprawling Pillars: adventurous, forward-looking, thought-provoking music replete with splendid interplay and a dizzying array of ideas and sounds that uncover more layers with each rewarding listen.
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