Sven Schlijper on Jos Smolders’s “Nowhere: Exercises in Modular Synthesis and Field Recording”

Nowhere marries brutalism to beautalism. Smolders knows the tools of his trade, inside and out. Movements are trained, skilled and well honed. The performance and the product it delivers open up to the moments of making and of reproduction. The controls handed over to aesthetics, again: moving swiftly. Gently also, like an inked brush gliding across the surface of prepared rice paper.

A brutal mark made, ever so softly, creating a work of fragile beauty. Smolders’s brutalism can be found in his daring approach to let the story tell itself. Let the lines flow. Contemplate only the now. Be the created instance. With or without what goes on around, switching on and shutting off. Hearing is thus turned into probing, into hard won, intense listening. Smolders delivers the concrète béton for our time and age, this very instance.

Nowhere does away with rigid structures. The album accepts whatever aurally happens as a musical given, at all times, against all odds. Smolders therewith presents us with a Cageian narrative ‘holos’; a Gesamtkunstwerk of the human and the mechanical, of the found and constructed, of art, artifice and the natural. That’s just as brutal as it is beautiful – here and now.

Sven Schlijper

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