“Submerge-Emerge” reviewed by Vital Weekly

Jos Smolders was inspired to write “Submerge- Emerge” by a teenage encounter with an 1897 poem called “Un Coup de des Jamais N’Abolira le Hasard” by Stephane Mallarme. As art tends to do when a receptive kid encounters it for the first time, the poem stuck with Smolders for decades afterwards. He continued to think about it, wrestling with the poem’s meaning and the effect that it had on him. In 2016, he decided to write a piece of music based on the poem. Now, writing experimental-type music based on a poem is, generally speaking, a silly thing to do. You’ve no doubt heard endless academic pretentious tape-and-voice nonsense music based on poems. Smolders, though, has long used language as inspiration for his music, and always with a uniquely personal perspective. He’s also a thoughtful enough composer to not fall into any cliché traps. “Submerge – Emerge”, then, is one of the most exciting and beautiful albums of his career, one that I’ll keep returning to long after this review is written. The album is more about the poem’s themes and ideas than simply a sonic backing to recited text. There are long stretches with no words at all… just shimmering pools of synthesizer tones, cavernous drones and field recordings of boats, beaches, and water (an element reflected from the poem’s water imagery). The album is lovely and engaging… episodes (labelled as “interludes” and “plates”, implying parts of a book) seem to comment on one another, working both individually and as a flowing whole. There’s a lot to chew on here, whether one traces sonic elements and compositional choices back to Mallarme’s poem or not. (HS)

via Vital Weekly

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