Artists Jos Smolders

Jos Smolders

  • Composer

AKA

Complements

Various artists
Intransitive Recordings / INT 013 / 2000
  • Out of print

Web releases

No Type (web) / NT 092 / 2006
Sine Fiction / SINE 014 / 2004

Articles written

  • Jos Smolders, Earlabs, April 23, 2009
    The result is a beautiful 74 minutes of electroacoustic music.
  • Jos Smolders, Earlabs, April 9, 2009
    Constantly moving and revolving. Beautiful.
  • Jos Smolders, Earlabs, April 5, 2009
    … gutsy and urban electroacoustic music. Definitely a leap forward! […] This is a very strong collection of works.
  • Jos Smolders, Earlabs, January 13, 2008
    … I must say it is quite something.

Review

Jos Smolders, Earlabs, April 23, 2009

Anniversary release to commemorate the 60th birthday of concrete music. Adkins collated the contributions of 60 artists into 8 segments, not following the categorization of the originator Pierre Schaeffer.

The disc contains music that was contributed by over 60 sound artists. It celebrates the 60th birthday of musique concrète in [2008]. Mathew Adkins, a veteran at Empreintes Digitales was invited to mix the sound contributions together. The result is a beautiful 74 minutes of electroacoustic music. Adkins diligently categorized all the contributions before setting to work with a mix. That way three major sections are created, each divided into two or three different sequences, each with its own sound character. To give you an impression: the first section is based on abstract electronic sounds, the second section uses concrète and ‘anecdotal’ material. The final balances between these two extremes.

The first section is nice but at the same time a little dull; too nice and cozy. The abstract electronics offer many chances for slowly developing scapes. And actually Adkins keeps his foot on the brakes for quite a long time. Only occasionally are we served with harsh sounds, with sudden dynamical rifts. Schaeffer, the founding father of musique concrète, had quite a different approach. His musical structure often refered heavily on classical structures, like the suite, the symphony. Of course, these are different times. Schaeffer created his music from within his own personal context.

Adkins works from a different perspective in a different age. These are more democratic times. Perhaps that’s why so many different artists (Hecker, Chartier, López, Jonty Harrison, Fennesz, Roden, just to name a few) were invited to contribute. The mixes are most times blends of different layers, no juxtapositions, bumps or crashes. Well, not until track 7, that is. But that one lasts only 2’43"…

7.5 / 10

The result is a beautiful 74 minutes of electroacoustic music.

Review

Jos Smolders, Earlabs, April 9, 2009

Tremblay brings us three well crafted works on this cd, his first in ten years. It was well worth the waiting!

Jacques Tremblay is of the same generation as Ned Bouhalassa, whose [disc] we reviewed a few days earlier. Tremblay is a different character, though. Where Bouhalassa brings the street into the studio, Tremblay, to me at least, is more the composer who regards the studio as a laboratory where he brews and distils all kinds of sounds and then places them under a microscope and then continues with determination.

Tremblay is the kind of composer who picks up a theme and then turns it inside out, sound wise. The first work on this CD, for instance, concentrates on the word ‘café’ which in French means both ‘coffee’ and ‘pub’. This offers of course an interesting combination where on the one hand we hear ‘sound’ ground or granulated like coffee beans and then brought under heavy pressure to produce a strong ‘espresso’. On the other hand there are the sounds that we associate with a cozy pub/cafe.

The center piece of this release is Empathies entropiques. I must say, it is by far the best piece of this disc and luckily it continues to be so for more than 47 minutes. The work is divided up into eight parts. An interesting mix of field recording, editing thereof and electronics. Constantly moving and revolving. Beautiful.

Tremblay at several points uses the typical editing techniques that are common with acousmatic composers, especially the ED composers, but in general his style is personal and strong.

Rated: 8/10

Constantly moving and revolving. Beautiful.

Review

Jos Smolders, Earlabs, April 5, 2009

Empreintes Digitales presents new works by Ned Bouhalassa, a new generation Canadian electroacoustic composer presenting gutsy and urban electroacoustic music. Definitely a leap forward!!

This prestigious Canadian label is renowned for its high quality sound releases. 95% of its artists have a degree in composition and lecture at some place in the world. The sound quality of the releases are sublime, 24-bit recording and mastering. The best you can get. Still, in the past few years I somehow had heard enough. It was all too shiny and also the software used by the composers and their semantics became somewhat too similar. There was a rather clear cut “Empreintes Digitales” sound. This release stands out from the crowd.

Bouhalassa, in the liner notes, writes that he imagines himself a giant who plays the city with a record player needle. The composer has an impressive career in scoring for film music as well, which helps to improve underscoring real life sounds and images, of course.

Bouhalassa makes a connection to contemporary city life and so takes the music out of the state of the art high tech studio. The center piece of the disc is the 34 minutes Urban Cuts featuring the work of poet Fortner Anderson and electronics added with cello (Delphine Measroch) and drums (Christian Olsen). The feel of this work is definitely ’urban’. It’s a journey (the poem tells about it) but not in the ’conventional’ acousmatic style. No, there are parts where the drums really work a groove, together with the basses that we know from the drum ’n’ bass area. These are alternated with the recitation by Anderson (himself) accompanied by field recordings and electronics. A true adventure for the listener with a firm musical background in modern dance music (like my kids, who enjoyed this a lot as well).

The other tracks on this disc, though as lengthy as ’urban cuts’ also breathe the outdoor, city atmosphere. Field recordings of the Berlin underground at some point grow out to become massive sound walls. Bouhalassa uses slamming doors as turning points in one of the other works, Impulse. It starts with the sound of a car driving away (immediate reference to Kraftwerk) and later doors are on several occasions breaks to a new soundscape. The city is almost always somehow the general background.

This is a very strong collection of works. May be so Bouhalassa regarded himself a DJ, selecting what he likes from his large collection of recordings. His choices are well made, and I hope Empreintes Digitales will allow more of such adventurous composers to release their work.

Rated: 9/10

… gutsy and urban electroacoustic music. Definitely a leap forward! […] This is a very strong collection of works.

Review

Jos Smolders, Earlabs, January 13, 2008

MT present themselves (in their bio on the ekumen.com site) as experimentators. Having undergone a major education in electroacoustic composition wasn’t enough, they expanded their terrain into the visual.

Milliseconde topographie is a duo, Nicolas Bernier and Delphine Measroch. They both graduated with Robert Normandeau and have a craving for experimentation. They explore not only the musical domain but also the visual. Bernier has been reviewed before at this site. This DVD-Video is their first and I must say it is quite something.

There are three main sections on the disc, Treelogy, Le microsillon des vagues, Fossile 1, 2 et 3. Each of the pieces in itself consists of 3 parts.

It’s a bit difficult to describe each piece because there are so many aspects to the works. The audio for most part is glitchy, dreamy, electronic. Now and again there is a real instrument applied (like the bandoneon, an organ or dulcimer) but not much more than their acoustic aspects are shown. There is hardly a melody played. Sometimes the music developes a slow rhythm but only to underpin the other sounds.

The visuals are quite diverse but have a lot in common. Often we see photopgraphed objects or landscapes and if what we see is a filmed image the movement is minimal. For instance, She Under a Sherrington Tree which is part of Treelogy, presents a barn with high grass in front of it. The image is in black and white. Only after some time you notice that the grass is moving by the wind. Shortly after that we see a plowed field (also in black and white) with in the distance a row of trees. The trees move by the wind but you only see that in second instance. Often images are layered over one another and then shifted from top to bottom of the screen in different tempos. Treelogy also includes letters, words and sentences placed on the screen fading in and out or digitally scratched in and out of screen.

Absolute highlight, for me, is Le microsillon des vagues which starts with an “amateur” video (black and white, out of focus, no steady image) of a sea shore over which at first letters (flashing very shortly) and then slowly words (somewhat longer) are projected. The footage is then layered and after a while we see silhouet of a man walking along the beach pass by. The screen fades to black and a new scenery is presented. We see a dark and rainly landscape (low point of view) through a sheet of green glass. In the distance vaguely a row of trees is visible and a house and a watchtower. Raindrops move down the glass but also up. Sometimes shortly a part of the screen is lighten (as if some illuminating piece of tape is applied). The music is minimal, with doors opening and closing slowly and the sound of a storm outside. Then starts part 2 (at 2/3 of the work). A piano, organ and a bandoneon and crackling and a softly speaking woman’s voice. A whispering man. To the right of the screen a photograph of a woman (breast and head). In the background the image of a calm sea with birds and two men bathing. The left eye of the woman is a large black hole. MT play with images and abstraction. Words are written over the screen. Patches are covered and uncovered. Etcetera. To me, Le microsillon des vagues is absolutely the best part of the DVD-Video.

Tricycle refers to both triptych and cycle. The three works shown can indeed be very well be watched in a continuous cycle. Images return over more than one work (e.g. the drops of water on glass certain use of lettering) and the visual language is consistent over the three works. It’s midnight music that you watch while reading a boring book or maybe even while dreamsleeping. It has a dreamy atmosphere and you discover more small things while watching it more.

MT present themselves (in their bio on the ekumen.com site) as experimentators. Having undergone a major education in electroacoustic composition wasn’t enough, they expanded their terrain into the visual. They have gone quite a stretch already, but I still think that forte lies in the music. The visual is still their terrain where they are “exploring”. The balance between auditive and visual is sometimes off, and at other times the direct relation between audio and video (e.g. words come up and disappear, accompanied by a specific sound) is unnecessary or even annoying. The use of typography is sometimes pleasant and adds a quality, but at other times it is a nuisance, disturbing the concentration on other aspects of the screen.

The effort that MT makes is quite worthwhile and deserves our continuous attention.

… I must say it is quite something.

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