CNVR01 | 29.11.2004
Textures and Mobiles
format: CDR | packaging: discbox slider
duration: 45 minutes, 9 tracks
limited to 100 numbered copies
Known as six years co-editor of Vital Magazine and as founder/owner of Earlabs.org, Jos Smolders is active in the underground electronic scene since early 80's. Founding member of the renowned Dutch electroacoustic ensemble THU20 (which also features Roel Meelkop and Peter Duimelinks, both of Kapotte Muziek and Goem), his music was released on cassette, LP and CD. He now works as a sound designer and composer in Tilburg (The Netherlands). "Textures and mobiles" is his latest work. Based enterely on pure sine waves and mobiles tones, the CDr has a really nice flow in the pieces and can easily meet as one of the best composed works of Jos Smolders. It has the Jos trademark all over it, despite the fact that he limits himself to just pure sine waves. One hour of introspection with minimals elements.
Jos provides a full range of experimental Electronica on this CD showing that he's not afraid to get stuck into any form of manipulation. Drone-based, high-frequency, low-frequency, field recordings and more - seriously, it's all here. For me the gentle manipulation of environmental sound is probably the strongest material on the CD and I guess that's because there's a subtlety and gentleness that's very appealing indeed. For fans of Non Visual Objects and Line this is pretty much a must-have item. Very nice.
[ Mike Oliver ]
The Dutch composer Jos Smolders has been active in the experimental music scene for many years now.
His contributions to the formation THU20 as well as his excellent solo projects on labels such as Staalplaat, Korm Plastics or Midas Music are well appreciated among insiders.
His output is a sensationable mixture of sophistication and beauty, merging the abstract with warmth and intelligence.
Therefore it is of no surprise that the online label CON-V asked this Dutch composer to present their first CD-R. Textures and mobiles, as it is called, offers a rich diversity of excellent tracks in which timelessness and beauty go together in harmony.
Sometimes rhythms are the central focus, sometimes Richard Chartier-like minimalism can be highly appreciated and well-enjoyed. A must for lovers of labels such as 12K and Line.
[ Phosphor Magazine ]
Jos Smolders' Textures and Mobiles hinges on sound sources that come close to gimmickry, the mobiles in question being mobile phones. Furthermore, the use of mobile phones is a kind of sonic pun, as Smolders acknowledges that the mobiles of artist Alexander Calder are an inspiration. This is the kind of conceptual joke that's only funny if you've spent years in the drone salt-mine.
Hooking your compositions to both limp humour and exalted artists (the “texture” pieces on this disc were inspired by Mark Rothko) work against your case. However, Smolders has an elegant touch, sourcing warmth in austerity and creating maximal effect from minimal means. The textures here are gorgeous pieces for pure tones: “Texture 5 (75-100-150-200 Hz)” spins glassy, tubular pings together like silver thread on a weave. Smolders shares with Oren Ambarchi and Alvin Lucier an ability to make affecting music from sounds divested of patina. The mobile pieces are busier, submerging the usual shrill shriek of the ring tone in ice-cold water and hanging them out to dry, wrinkled and mottled. “Mobile 3 (dtml)” turns the source inside-out to create a shivery string of collapsing structures. Devoid of hearing the original sound, your head makes all the connections. Is this critique, benign subversion, or blank sonic manipulation?
[ John Dale ]
The mutability and the mellowness of Jos Smolders' pieces for mobile ringtones is certainly surprising and extremely pleasant. Far from those undesirable bleeps and stupid melodies we've unfortunately grown used to during our everyday contacts, these sounds are small fragments of synthesis subtracted to silence and their presence rapidly becomes appreciated - even welcome - as long as the brain automatically finds small holes in its structure to allow them developing their not-so-superficial significance. This linear architecture expresses its most contemplative character during impressive radiations of incisive subfrequencies, like in the cerebral rubbing of "Texture 2" or in the slow glissando oscillation - similar to a takeoff sensation - in "Texture 4a". Even in its simplest forms, Jos' ideas resplend with the beauty of simplicity.
[ Massimo Ricci ]
Der Niederländer Jos Smolders ist ein alter Hase aus dem Staalplaat-Umfeld. Seit nunmehr 20 Jahren aktiv im veröffentlicht er experimentell-reduzierten Minimalismus und betreibt nebenbei die Fundgrube 'Earlabs.org', das einen reichen Fundus an obskurem Avantgarde und Musique Concrete diverser Komponisten des vergangenen Jahrhunderts beherbergt. Die neun Tracks des Albums sind thematisch in fünf 'Textures' und vier 'Mobiles' durchmischt, wobei sich Smolders für die 'Textures' Reihe von den monochromen Farbflächen Mark Rothkos insprieren ließ. Als Fixpunkt für die 'Mobiles' Stücke bedient sich Smolders der bewegten Plastiken Alexander Calders. Zu hören gibt es binäre Schwingungen resultierend aus minimalen Modulationen zwischen 20-200 Hz. Elegisch gleiten die 'Textures' zwischen sinusförmigen Frequenzbereichen dann auch daher, sind aber nicht wirklich prickelnd und erinnern zudem stark an die Ästhehtik von Smolders 2002er Album 'Music for kalx.com'. Die 'Mobiles' machen deutlich mehr Spaß und setzen die nötigen Gegenpole, hier arbeitet er konsequent mit monophonen DTMF-Klingeltönen die systematisch im Raum angeordnet werden. Wenn diese dann mittels Panning zwischen den Speakern umhertapsen ('Mobile 6') oder wie in 'Mobile 3' dahersprudeln, sind die perfekten Klingeltöne für Liebhaber des klinischen-ästhetischen Minimalismus gefunden. Fans von 12k, Tietchens oder Lucier vorbehalten werden. Diese kommen dann aber auch voll auf ihre Kosten.
[ Sebastian Redenz ]
Jos Smolders might be more known these days as the driving force behind the Earlabs site, a true online goldmine for electronic music, both old and new, but many forget that he is also a composer in his own right and for a very long time. He earliest releases were released on cassettes on labels such as Midas Music (where are the CDR re-issues, please?) and Korm Plastics. Then he produced two more than excellent LPs in the early nineties, and some more conceptual works for CDs on Staalplaat. Those are more 'create your own thing with this'. Jos Smolders is also part of the never really ceasing to exist group THU20 (who are preparing for a new project next year). Since some time Jos Smolders is back at composing music himself, and for no other purpose than to create beautiful music. On 'textures And Mobiles', the first CDR release from Con-V, otherwise known as an online label, Smolders finds his inspiration in two visual artists. For the textures he is inspired by the paintings of Mark Rothko and the mobiles by the mobiles of Alexander Calder, using CCITT ringtones (mobiles getit?) as sound sources. Of the nine pieces, five are from the texture series, and here Smolders uses static tones that are similar but not the same to create a richly varied elegant tapestry of sound. The sounds glide and pass by, move gently through space. The connection to Rothko is indeed present, and musically it relates to the work of Alvin Lucier. The mobiles are shorter tracks of shorter sounds that sound unlike anything those annoying ringtones I hear on the street or in the train. Maybe bythemselves the 'Mobile' pieces aren't that convincing, but they form an interesting counterpoint to the longer 'Texture' pieces, which if only present on this release, would maybe a bit too much also. Now the balance is just perfect. Moving along the lines of his previous release 'Music For Kalx.com' (on ERS Records), this is a more than excellent release. For those who love Lucier, Asmus Tietchens and 12K, this is definetely a must have.
[ Frans de Waard ]
CON-V EDITION | 2015