Post-classical ambient minimalism for crepuscular airports

Junto Project 0356: Ground Swell [repost]

Someone suggested that Suss Müsik repost our contributions to the weekly Disquiet Junto projects, because they enjoy reading the explanations of the tracks. While you’re reading the original post, make sure you check out the other contributors’ works as well.

First settled in 1733, Savannah is the oldest city in the U.S state of Georgia. The bustling port played an integral role in the Atlantic slave trade, importing thousands of African people of primarily Congolese descent.

Even after the state banned the direct important of Africans in 1798, written records indicate that slave ships arrived on coastal Georgia as late as 1858. Many of these were driven by pirates who profited by luring escaped slaves to their boats, imprisoning them, and selling their labor overseas.

In 1854, a French ship called The Grietely arrived in Savannah to collect 71 runaway slaves. Chained to the bottom of the boat, the slaves pounded the walls in order to escape. As the damaged ship began to take in water, the captain refused help from locals to save those imprisoned below deck. Everyone chained to the boat perished.

Legend has it that the harbor remains haunted by the ghosts of those who drowned on The Grietely. Some sailors insist that they can sense a force in the waters that pulls their boats off course. Others have reported hearing voices spoken in Bantu.

For this piece, Suss Müsik layered recordings of African American laments against a bed of Moog synth and bass drum. Listeners may recognize the haunting lyric of New Buryin’ Ground: “Well I can hear the hammer ringin’ / On somebody coffin / A well, it must have been my captain,” in addition to an unknown vocalist singing Arwhoolie Cornfield Holler.

The piece is titled Grietely. The image was taken on the waters of the Savannah river.

Junto Project 0355: Sonic Vivisection [repost]

Someone suggested that Suss Müsik repost our contributions to the weekly Disquiet Junto projects, because they enjoy reading the explanations of the tracks. While you’re reading the original post, make sure you check out the other contributors’ works as well.

Galway Kinnell’s poem “The Bear” explores the conflict between humans and their natural environment, signifying the metaphorical paradox that occurs when hunter and prey become one. The poem’s seven section takes us through a grisly dream sequence in which the central theme (a bear’s animalistic search for food) represents one’s instinctual need for survival, married with the subconscious hunger to understand how and why we exist.

At the poem’s crucial moment, the narrator’s comes upon the “scraggled,/ steamy hulk” of an eviscerated bear. He splits, devours and enters the rotting carcass before assuming the bear’s identity:

I hack
a ravine in his thigh, and eat and drink,
and tear him down his whole length
and open him and climb in
and close him up after me, against the wind,
and sleep.

And dream
of lumbering flatfooted
over the tundra,
stabbed twice from within,
splattering a trail behind me,
splattering it out no matter which way I lurch …

The poem’s final line is the narrator asking himself, “what, anyway,/ was that sticky infusion, that rank flavor of blood, that poetry, by which I lived?” Suss Müsik often ponders similar questions.

For this piece, a ravine was hacked into a sound field and worn like a fur-covered shell. Organ chords were played through two MoogerFooger processors, then spliced, sampled & distorted in real time using the Infinite Jets “swell” setting. An additional noise filter compressed the signal, its melodies lumbering flatfooted over a wintry tundra splattered with sonic debris.

Although the piece lacks any sort of “surgical” precision, such is often the case when cuts are made with bone rather than medical instruments. The final result was performed live and recorded quickly to 8-track.

The piece is titled Poincheval, named after the French artist who lived a week inside a fake bear.

Junto Project 0353: Warp & Weft [repost]

Someone suggested that Suss Müsik repost our contributions to the weekly Disquiet Junto projects, because they enjoy reading the explanations of the tracks. While you’re reading the original post, make sure you check out the other contributors’ works as well.

Suss Müsik initially misread this week’s Junto theme as being inspired by a line from an early Cocteau Twins song: “The devil bite’s dirty, we warp and weft.” This should provide an inkling of how little we know about the textile sciences. Not that you couldn’t make the same assumption by simply looking through Suss Müsik’s wardrobe.

As part of our research, Suss Müsik consulted with an expert versed in the subtle art of warping and wefting. “Basically the warp is vertical lines of yarn attached to a loom,” we were told. “The weaver then inserts the weft yarn horizontally back and forth to form a fabric.”

Okay, got it.

“There are different techniques when making something like a tapestry. You can do a vertical slit by weaving two wefts toward each other until they meet at the place where the slit is desired. You can also do a diagonal slit by turning at the same point in succeeding weft passes, moving one or more warp ends to either side of the previous turn.”

Um … okay.

“You can also do something called hatching, where two weft yarns approach, meet, and return from one another in a series of joins in a random overlapping fashion. My favorite is the dovetail interlock, where two adjacent color wefts circle a common warp end as a turning point.”

At this point, Suss Müsik politely shooed away all this talk of warping and wefting and got to work. An egg shaker provides the longitudinal structure, while two gently plucked guitar phrases behave as weft hooks. Two Moog synth washes are then “woven” across the front of the mix.

Halfway through, two drum patterns interlock as a binaural databend of the provided image stretches behind them. Hand-over-hand piano polyrhythms complete the “tapestry” while an EWI whines in the foreground. The last sound heard is a harmonic treatment of the original image’s bit data converted to sound.

Upon hearing the piece, our textile consultant determined that it most closely resembled a dovetail interlocking pattern. Something to do with a third color emerging from the two grounds overlapping, so we’re told.

Junto Project 0352: Layering Permutations [repost]

Someone suggested that Suss Müsik repost our contributions to the weekly Disquiet Junto projects, because they enjoy reading the explanations of the tracks. While you’re reading the original post, make sure you check out the other contributors’ works as well.

Next time you misplace your keys, try thinking like an ant.

Ants solve problems collectively by secreting messages to other ants. When an ant finds a source of food, it walks back to the colony leaving pheromone markers. As other ants discover that the pheromone trail leads to food, they populate the path with their own markers. The more ants who travel the path, the more pheromones are dropped. Once the food source is depleted, the ants cease populating the trail and any remaining pheromones slowly decay.

Scientists who study this behavior refer to something called the Ant Colony Optimization (ACO) metaheuristic. That’s a fancy way of saying that ants tend to prefer shorter trails with stronger pheromones, not unlike how computer algorithms disambiguate search terms. When someone types the word “cars” into Google, for example, it’s important to differentiate the intended task of buying an automobile from watching a movie or listening to a 1980’s new wave band.

For this piece, Suss Müsik treated a single piano melody as an “algorithm” by layering each permutation. As the base path is developed, other instruments randomly travel outside the melody, perhaps resembling how ants continue scouting for additional food sources. The sequence ultimately “optimizes” with all musical pheromones aligning toward a single discovery.

The piece is titled Pheromones and composed for piano, violin, woodwinds, cello and brass.

Junto Project 0350: Selected Insomniac Works [repost]

Someone suggested that Suss Müsik repost our contributions to the weekly Disquiet Junto projects, because they enjoy reading the explanations of the tracks. While you’re reading the original post, make sure you check out the other contributors’ works as well.

Suss Müsik knows all about insomnia for the mentally fragile. We’ll spare you the details, other than to say this: when one is dedicated to the craft of “post-classical ambient minimalism for crepuscular airports,” exploring the nuance between dusk and dawn is something of an occupational necessity. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

“I fellowed sleep who kissed me in the brain / Let fall the tear of time; the sleeper’s eye,” writes the poet Dylan Thomas. “There grows the hours’ ladder to the sun / Each rung a love or losing to the last.” These two couplets succinctly describe the duality of insomnia, which in Suss Müsik’s experience takes two forms.

The first form of insomnia is a woozy precipice between not quite being asleep or awake — not exactly alert, yet consciously aware that time is passing. The second form (usually following the first) is a whirlpool of cognitive dissonance: the body may be tired, but the brain actively rages at an endless cycle of unanswerable questions. How many years do I have left? Did I remember to pay the insurance? Do I have cancer? What’s that sound downstairs? Who or what is touching my leg?

For this piece, Suss Müsik sought to represent both forms of insomnia through sound. The piece begins with the insistent tempo of a CR-78 drum machine, which signifies the ticking of a clock, its rhythm punctuated by jabs of piano. A field of electronic fog slowly emerges from within and builds to a quiet roar. With the whine of a saxophone, everything retreats back into the subconscious. The ticking CR-78 returns to close things out.

The piece is titled Chiasmus, named after a grammatical structure in which a phrase is reversed with no repetition in words. Next time you have insomnia, try to list as many of these as you can remember from when you were in school.

Junto Project 0349: Got Glitch? [repost]

Someone suggested that Suss Müsik repost our contributions to the weekly Disquiet Junto projects, because they enjoy reading the explanations of the tracks. While you’re reading the original post, make sure you check out the other contributors’ works as well.

Shredder 1.0 is an “alternative web browser” developed in 1998 by artist Mark Lanier. It remains live and online today, even twenty (!) years after launch. You can try it out at www.potatoland.org/shredder/.

The application works by passing a website’s source code through a rudimentary Perl script, which then rearranges the visual elements into a two-dimensional pile of abstracted screen fragments. The effect resembles a screenshot sliced into tiny pieces and thrown all over the floor, not unlike the random chaos of a Jackson Pollack painting. “My works are not objects but interfaces,” Lanier wrote in 2001. “By interacting with the work, the visitors shape the piece, causing it to change and evolve in unpredictable ways.”

In his book Why Things Break, author Mark. E. Eberhart describes how “for almost everyone, the word ‘structure’ evokes a strong visual.” Lanier’s approach turns this definition on its head by forcing us to visualize the *lack* of structure, or at least to contemplate a structure whose components are always in fluctuation.

A glitch, then, might be defined in digital terms as the identifiable break in which computerized output (graphics, text, etc.) experiences a change in structure. “Into the computer goes the question,” writes Eberhart, “and out comes a total change in entropy.”

For this weird piece, Suss Müsik sought to recreate a change in entropy through sound. Random musical phrases were played on piano, organ, electric guitar, fake woodwinds and percussion. These recordings were refactored and split using a digital delay pedal, then resequenced to 8-track as a single audio pane.

The piece is titled Shredder. The image is the Suss Müsik website run through the Shedder algorithm.

Next “Singles Project” Release

As part of a continuing effort we’re calling The Singles Project, Suss Müsik is developing an extrapolation of musical motifs centered on the invention of the telescope. The release will consist of two short pieces built around the same sonic framework with different arrangements: one performed solely on piano and violin, the other using more ornamental instrumentation (keeping with the “fake orchestra” concept) and electronics. The basic structures are in place, now on to finalizing the composition and recording/mastering the output. The release will be titled Lippershey.

Junto Project 0348: Hot Mise en Abyme [repost]

Someone suggested that Suss Müsik repost our contributions to the weekly Disquiet Junto projects, because they enjoy reading the explanations of the tracks. While you’re reading the original post, make sure you check out the other contributors’ works as well.

In 1978, a young animator named Louis Carpenter used computer-generated fractal geometry to draw complex objects in three-dimensional space. He started with a pyramid, dividing each of its triangular sides into smaller shapes and repeating the process indefinitely. You can see the output of Carpenter’s efforts in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, the first feature film to contain a computerized sequence using this method. Now you know.

Evidence of fractal geometry can be found everywhere throughout the natural world, from the branching of trees to the human cardiovascular system. Taken in this context, mise en abyme might reasonably be considered the most organic of creative practices. Some consider the craft to be nothing more than a recursive gimmick: M.C. Escher on a coffee mug. Yet if one were to view ultrasound images comparing the vascular structures of healthy organs against those riddled with tumors, the significance of fractal repetition can be creatively inspiring.

For this piece, Suss Müsik played a simple piano/violin phrase and split it into smaller “shapes” to be looped through various effects modules. Every sound heard in this piece is derived from the original using some combination of ring modulators, glitch/swell effects, low-pass filters, digital reverb/delays, and a bit of tube amp distortion. The subdivided sonic “shapes” grow smaller and smaller until rendered inaudible.

The piece is titled Sierpiński in honor of Waclov Sierpiński’s recursive process in which a shape is subdivided into smaller versions of itself. The image is one side of a crystal polyhedron.

Junto Project 0347: Remix Remodel [repost]

Someone suggested that Suss Müsik repost our contributions to the weekly Disquiet Junto projects, because they enjoy reading the explanations of the tracks. While you’re reading the original post, make sure you check out the other contributors’ works as well.

This is Suss Müsik’s first Disquiet Junto project in a while, following a period in which the studio was used as temporary storage during a renovation. it’s difficult to create while working around 4′ x 8′ stacks of building materials. In between were periods of travel, illness, confusion, sedation. It’s been a weird summer.

Re-emerging from a self-imposed hiatus is something like awakening from a cryogenic slumber. The world has changed, except it hasn’t. In his classic children’s novel The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame describes (through the voice of Mole) the benefits of hiding away:

“Once well underground, you know exactly where you are. Nothing can happen to you, and nothing can get at you. Things go on all the same overhead, and you let ’em, and don’t bother about ’em. When you want to, up you go, and there the things are, waiting for you.”

Suss Müsik poked through the topsoil recently to discover two amazing pieces of music by longtime Junto participants. One is a lovely bit of electronic froth by mat; the other a bracing percussion sequence by Daniel Diaz. Suss Müsik enjoyed these bits immensely and thought they might sound nice together.

Listen to “Tachos number 2” by Daniel Diaz.

Listen to “just type w// norns foulplay” by mat.

For this strangely tranquil piece, Daniel’s kitchen percussion was sequenced front-to-back while mat’s synth noodlings were split into smaller bits. Both components were played in real time at various “glitch” and “swell” settings using Hologram Infinite Jets and Moogerfooger MF-102 processors. No other instrumental voices were used other than a single piano chord.

The piece is titled , named after the Danish word for “thaw.” The image is frozen juice pulp.

Suss Müsik is PŪR Fun

Suss Müsik returns from a brief hiatus to release the eighth and latest in a series of live studio improvisations. This one uses primitive electronics, vibes, fake strings, bass, Moog synth, drums, and looped guitar feedback to create a vaguely fusion effect. Somewhat recalls Morris Pert’s work with Brand X, if a bit updated with post-rock tendencies. Recorded live to 8-track in August 2018.

This makes eight releases in the Non series. We may consider compiling these into a proper “album” at some point, or using some of this material in other ways.