A belated review of Gaussian Transient (Megaphone) which I found belatedly 🙂 Squidsear reviewer Darren Bergstein wrote the following: “Some beautifully abstract pieces of sound art/processed field recordings from the always-reliable Jos Smolders, founding member of Dutch post-dadaist electroacoustic ensemble THU20. The fragmentary yet vibrant clutch of sounds embroidered on his small catalog of recordings are no less richer despite their minimalist bent; his works feel carefully chosen and smartly demarcated, musique actuelle that nevertheless derives a good deal of its staying power from the use of the most nourishing sample food. Smolders’ own ruminations on how he arrived at the tableaux spread out over Gaussian Transient provides some welcome context. Self-imposing compositional limitations became his m.o. after his first (latter 80s) vinyl recording — because, as he states, “sometimes I needed to contain myself within certain boundaries, mostly because I had a subject of research in mind” — boundaries that make the listener sharpen their aural focus to glean the tiny non-events and small gestures Smolders buries deep within the mix. Paradoxically, Gaussian feels like the “busiest” of NVO’s releases, its quiet passages suddenly upset by bursts of activity (a raging subway, a flurry of conversing passers-by) that would be jarring if they didn’t adequately flesh out the dense physiognomy of Smolders’ constructions. The sounds have their literary analog in Smolders’ choice of track titles, penned by British artist Tom Phillips. Smolders notes that “I have always been intrigued by language, words and meaning… in the 70s, Phillips reworked existing pages of books…painting or drawing over the text he erased most of it but left certain word combinations intact.” Smolders’ own use of juxtaposition combined with abject Burroughs-ian cut-up/edit techniques yields just as fascinating sonic results. So much happens (even for such obviously well-considered sonic paucity) throughout the twelve works here — erected out of everything from vials of hiss, aberrant digital processing, strange quarks in the night, massed voices, the rhythmic banter of footsteps — that any literal dissection is a fool’s gesture at best. Suffice to say that the closing eleven minutes of “The First Scenes and Feelings” illustrates fully Smolders’ cinema pour l’oreille. Warbling skeins of moist static unfold in various layers, so that what is glimpsed in between are variable bits of microscopic activity — plastic balls impacting concrete, the distant hum of generators, flaccid raindrops — that colorfully sketch untold visual phantasms in the mind’s eye. Author, author!”

Thanks. Buy the album (NVO 015) [ here ] at Nonvisualobjects

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