Textuur 2 [ |​|​|​| - - - - ] cover

Jos SmoldersTextuur 2 [ |​|​|​| - - - - ]

Crónica 216 CD

Release: 23 April 2024

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  1. Collection 1
  2. Permutation A
  3. Permutation B
  4. Collection 2
  5. Permutation C
  6. Permutation D
  7. Permutation E
  8. Permutation F
  9. Permutation G
  10. Permutation H
  11. Permutation I
  12. Permutation J

The Textuur project

This album is part 3 in a series where I investigate processes to strip sounds from their original context and slice them into tiny bits. By doing this, sounds are separated from their source and as such severed from what they originally represented. What’s interesting and challenging for me in the project is to find the crossover area where representation disappears, and the sound becomes an abstraction. Where this is varies depending on the original sound. Already in the 1950s, Pierre Schaeffer investigated this and introduced the term objet sonore as an object that has a sonic quality of its own. In addition, Schaeffer also defined the objet musicale, which is the state after the sound object is manipulated and transformed into a musical entity. One could say that the objet sonore is the raw material and the objet musicale the intermediate or the final product.

I started reading Schaeffer’s texts in 1981, after hearing Symphonie pour un homme seul and realizing that the wild sound experiments that I had been doing in my small flat had a history that went back to the late 1940s. Searching for more information, all I found was a single French text which I got from the library. I xeroxed all the pages and started reading, slowly, slowly, because I had not been paying much attention during French classes in high school. I have always found the idea of sound removed from its physical source to be problematic. Whenever I listened to musique concrète, I still recognized the sound source with all its physical and psychological connotations. So, what kind of game was being played here? I didn’t quite ‘get it’, apparently. But I loved listening to the recordings and through the years crafted my own musical style.

In Textuur my objet sonore is not a three-dimensional object. It is a representation of something else, like a word, or a (endless) rhythm or a (endless) sine wave. The objet musicale is a (two-dimensional) surface. A surface with a texture. In my view the surface is completely immaterial but does present surface related characteristics, like smooth, rough, abrasive, uneven, adhesive, punctured, wet, et cetera.

The idea of music as a representation of a surface arose from reading Carl Andre’s Yucatan poem series which he wrote in 1971-72. In true style of concrete poetry, Andre presents us with blocks of words in black and red carefully distributed over the paper surface. What struck me most about the poems is that the letters and the words seem to sink back into the visual form. Depending on their focus the reader either watches an abstract shape or reads words and letters. I found this very interesting because the (sound of the) human voice, words, meaning and representation often play a significant role in my work. Here a visual artist and one-time poet seemed to work with the same idea from a different perspective. Writing to Andre, I almost got in a heated argument with him because he strongly disagrees with being named a representative of concrete poetry (as I assumed) and when I made a remark to that effect, he metaphorically slammed the door in my face. Well, anyway.

After deciding on the imagery of surface as objet sonore I have long thought about how to translate my interpretation of Yucatan to a musical dimension. In fact, the whole of 2021 and a decent part of 2022 was spent on thinking, experimenting, collecting, and discarding. Then, late 2022, I visited an exhibition of the works of Josef and Anni Albers in Den Haag. Although I primarily went to see Josef Albers’s paintings, the works of his wife Anni sparked the idea that I could use “weaving” as a way of producing the sounds I wanted. At least it was a metaphor that showed me a path out of my conundrum. A fabric shows a pattern on a surface but zooming in one can still see the original threads. Threads can be anything, of any width, any length. Weaving can be as loose and as dense as you need.


Each Textuur project is built up in a similar fashion. There are two groups of sound. First there are the collections which consist of samples of the original material. The other group consists of various permutations. The samples from the collections are torn apart into threads of various widths and subsequently rewoven into a new synthetic fabric. Sound is thus stripped from its original value and meaning and resynthesized into a new texture. Each permutation is the result of a fresh approach. Although they are presented in a certain order on the album, you are free to play them in any order you like and even skip some parts. Like the experience I had with Carl Andre’s poems, in this project listeners can investigate at what point the source (as presented in the collections), and the meaning of that source, disappears into the sonic surface it is woven into. Sometimes it completely blends in and becomes an anonymous part of a big whole. At other times, it retains its original shape and most times simultaneously its original meaning. It’s amazing, as you will hear, how persistent meaning of actual words can be.

Listeners are invited to design their own permutation or permutation of the permutation.

With Textuur 2, I wanted to investigate the immersion of dance music into an electroacoustic environment. Like the other projects, here we first set the scene with several collections and then shred and dissolve that material in order to build up new sonic textures. The collections in Textuur 2 consist of the rhythmic parts as well as basic sine wave drones. The permutations are mixtures of those originals. The puncturing sounds of the various rhythmic elements encounter the heavy barrels of dense and dark sine wave drones. This periodically results in a nicely balanced soundscape, but more often one experiences brutalist clashes.

Produced and mastered by Jos Smolders, 2020-2024. Design 2019-2022, recording 2022-2023, final production and mastering January 2024. Instruments used were drum machine, modular oscillator, various granular tools, GRM tools. Cover art concept by Rutger Zuydervelt.

I would like to thank Anni Albers and Carl Andre for inspiration, Roel Meelkop and Ilse van Dongen for feedback and support, Miguel Carvalhais and team Crónica for offering this excellent platform for publication.

Press-release / Reviews