German-Icelandic electro-acoustic trio Minua’s new EP Simulacra explores just tuning systems and alternate temperaments. Utilising various instruments like woodwinds, a modular synthesizer, a Bavarian zither or electric bass, the trio stretch barely song-like structures to their limits; the four pieces here move with glacial grandeur, their movement barely perceptible.
The first half of the record revolves around the element of air. The opening “Order of Instants” utilises layered woodwind instruments to create a harmonic space inspired by an 18th century temperament often used by organ tuners. “Final Service” is an ode to overtones and noise, fusing bass clarinets with modular synthesizer and processed electric bass to calming, slowly modulating effect.
The second half of the record shifts the trio’s focus to plucked instruments, but the pieces retain their slow-moving, monolithic character. “Sixfold Wilted Rose” features a Bavarian zither, unravelling its shimmering beauty on the bedrock of drone sounds like a rose blooming in parched soil, while the closing “Ascension Point” continues in a similar mood, a droning calmness underpinning the gentle electric guitar plucks.
Inspired by traditional musics, elements of jazz and contemporary drone, Minua have created a body of work that draws parallels between musical worlds. Simulacra is beautiful, patient music.
"...superb mini-album by the German-Icelandic trio Minua, who use assorted woodwind instruments, modular synths, bass guitars and Bavarian zithers – sometimes tuned to unorthodox natural temperaments – to create thick, impasto layers of slow-moving sound that completely command your attention." - The Guardian
"While zoomed out these four pieces are defined by barely perceptible harmonic shifts that seem to freeze time, the suspension gives space to see the intricate craft that sustains these levitations, like sneaking a glimpse into the inner workings of a finely tuned machine." - Spool's Out / The Quietus
"Musty, crackly tones, sustained woodwind, mournful chords. Makes you shudder with unquenchable sorrow." - Bandcloud
Minua's music presents itself in constant alteration. Circling around drones and more song-based structures, their style defies genre boundaries with a subtle blend of acoustic and electronic textures.
This music Marta created, holds stillness and space just as much as it holds notes and chords, and it is in those spaces between notes that captured my attention so much. This music requires some patience and is for everyone, but I find it gorgeous. Especially when everything finally comes together on the last track, "music" with a choirs wordless vocals taking the chord changes and melody all the way to the climactic ending. Joe Borreson