Post-classical ambient minimalism for crepuscular airports

A New New Album to Replace the Old New Album

Cover of Zygotes Suss Müsik is preparing a proper release entitled Zygotes. It will consist of six compositions for “fake orchestras” using strings, piano, woodwinds, percussion, sound collage, little electronic doodads and (in one instance) a Roland CR-78 rhythm machine. It could be our best effort or our worst, or perhaps somewhere in the middle. A preview track entitled Mersozhaun is available on SoundCloud, so you can judge for yourself. The cover is a picture of a newly-cracked egg with its yolk oozing all over the place.

Junto Project 0305: Three Princes [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 a sense, William Golding’s classic 1954 novel Lord of the Flies examines serendipity gone wrong: a group of young British boys are randomly isolated on a remote island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Unconstrained by parental supervision, laws or even personal ethics, the children’s behavior is increasingly fueled by hormonal desperation and a hunger for conquest—a social parallel to one’s loss of innocence.

There is a lovely accidental moment at the 00:15 mark of “Wandanawe Yamu Pevila Thisarana Sile Wadimta,” likely an audio artifact created when someone pressed the Pause button on their recorder. There is also a fantastic vocal loop that occurs naturally at the end of “Man Rikzo Karaya,” and a terrific interlude in “Aatha Chandana Ime” that braids distant voices into a violent, wailing cacophony. It’s great stuff.

Suss Müsik employed these three elements to create this weird, creepy piece. The piece begins with the first loop sounding almost like a jack-in-the-box or some other children’s toy. A percussive phrase was then created from a small sample of that loop and played as a melody. Meanwhile, two other loops were stretched and phased at different binaural settings, concluding with the bleat of a fourth sample played via EWI device. There’s a little shaky percussion in there as well.

The result made Suss Müsik recall this quote from Golding’s novel: “I was asleep when the twisty things were fighting and when they went away I was awake, and I saw something big and horrid moving in the trees.” Happy weekend!

The piece is titled Mountaz, a rough derivative of the Persian word مونتاز which means “assembly.” The image is a gold-painted leaf.

Disquiet Junto 0304: Let’s Buzz [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 once visited a biodynamic farm in Kentucky. The influence that bees have our ecosystems, both natural and artificial, cannot be overstated. The basic structure of a honeycomb can be found replicated in a variety of industrial uses, from thermoplastic engineering to aerospace.

The architecture of a honeycomb is both hexagonal and quasihorizontal, meaning that each layer is built with a set of open and closed facets. The open ends are shared by opposing cells, which strengthen as they nest into one another. This ensures that the least amount of material is used while protecting the comb’s structure when honey is harvested.

For this weirdly pastoral piece, Suss Müsik sought to create a hexagonal and quasihorizontal musical composition using a similar approach. We played six “cells” on acoustic guitar with open ends, each sounding incomplete when played in isolation. It is only when the fragments are butted against each other that a musical function emerges.

To replicate the spirit of worker bees toiling, a subtle tambourine rhythm keeps time as the guitar parts ebb and flow, perhaps referencing the result of honey being harvested. Just as hexagonal patterns discourage bees from building larger combs, the lattice of guitars is constrained by the simple economy of a repetitious strum in three drone-like phases.

The piece is titled Broodcomb, named after cocoons that darken over time. This is the effect of “travel stains” caused by bees working inside cells of unharvested honey.

Junto Project 0302: Gronkytonk Based on Malka Older’s Novel Infomacracy [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.

“Wonk” is a condescending name applied to someone who is studious or hard-working. We often hear it used in US American politics when someone is disparaged as a “policy wonk.” Suss Müsik would think that being conscientious and knowledgeable are fine personal attributes, but what do we know.

When Tina Turner sang The Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Woman”, she painted a brilliant image of a “gin soaked bar-room” where there is always the danger of being “pull[ed] out of some kind of fight.” We envision a dark, crowded saloon, located somewhere in the American west, teeming with the smell of testosterone and beef jerky.

For this piece, Suss Müsik imagined how a wonky tonk Woman (or man) might behave. We asked a female artist/librarian friend to describe what wonky tonk music might sound like. “Computers swearing at each other” was her reply, which we used as a creative springboard.

The piece was composed on two synth emulators run through a Korg Tone Works 411fx processor, a cheesy drum loop, some gnarly guitar feedback, slippery (sloppy) bass, horrid saxophones, fake brass, and a sampled bicycle wheel. We laughed the whole way through it, because the result is so ridiculous.

The piece is titled Gronkytonk. The image is a shot glass.

Fake Orchestras

Suss Müsik has been doing quite a bit of composing lately. Much of the material falls under the category of what we call “fake orchestras,” often involving some combination of digital and traditional strings, piano, woodwinds and percussion. We think of it as something like a broken consort. We explored this concept on a couple of Disquiet Junto projects over the past year, and we’ve expanded upon this dynamic to create new pieces of increasing depth and complexity.

In order to fully pursue this new approach, Suss Müsik has once again (to the probable dismay and irritation of our seven fans worldwide) delayed the Decatenation project for the short-term future. It makes more sense thematically, since the final track listing of Decatenation skews more toward definable song structures, with at least one piece resembling what could almost be considered a “single” in some weird parallel universe.

It’s interesting, upon reflection, the somewhat convoluted path Suss Müsik has taken over the past eighteen months from ambient minimalism (i.e. music as meditative furniture) to something more structural and intentionally arranged. We think it’s a good progression, and Suss Müsik embraces the challenge that the interplay of instrumental voices presents when working more acoustically.

In other news, Suss Müsik is exploring the possibility of playing some live dates in 2018. We are not yet certain how this will work logistically or what it will involve, but we’ll let you know.

Junto Project 0301: Parts > Sum [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.

Water is distilled when its impurities are removed through boiling, after which the steam is condensed into liquid form. Repeating the steps (a process called double-boiling) renders distilled water of even greater purity.

Ambient music is much like water in that it assumes the shape of its container. Suss Müsik is intrigued by the concept of sound being filtered over time, a single droplet extended until the brain can no longer differentiate between individual tones. The entirety of Pauline Oliveros’ excellent Deep Listening work reflects this approach.

For this piece, Suss Müsik captured a 30-second excerpt from each of the ten tracks on Lee Rosevere’s 5 MInute Meditations. Each excerpt was then sampled and stretched to five minutes each. A 5-second sample was then pulled from this result (an audio form of “double-boiling,” if you will) and again stretched to the five-minute mark.

The ten distilled textures were each played on separate tracks with some form of MIDI instrumentation, for a duration of five minutes apiece, which we then faded in and out in sequential order. The segments overlap by ten to twenty seconds to produce the final result.

The samples felt a little thin, so a subtle deep beat was added to fatten the mix. The drum sound underwent the same “filtration” process described above.

The piece is titled Rosevere. The image is a magnification of water drops viewed from inside a glass jar.

Junto Project 0300: The 300th Consecutive Weekly Project [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 owns a copy of Ted Greene’s Chord Chemistry, an artifact from classical guitar lessons taken long, long ago. The book is like a skinny encyclopedia for guitar nerds, diving into the nuances of systematic voice leading and harmonic progressions as an approach to composition. We’d tell you more if we could remember any of it.

Suss Müsik is fascinated by the way that a singular component can be modularized and extended to create a system. The artist Sol Lewitt understood this concept very well, developing a complex visual language from a single geometric form. Chords are the linear elements that give shape to modular structures we call “songs” — it’s amazing the emotive depth a single chord can carry in the right context.

For this short piece, Suss Müsik selected the chord Eb7 for piano, mellotron and 12-string guitar. We chose this chord because it’s one of those chords that sounds ghastly played in isolation, and yet when bridged between other voices it has an almost lyrical quality.

The mellotron was played on dual “church organ” settings, creating a harsh phasing as the cycles overlapped in unison. The guitar was played with a Vox amplifier that for some reason picked up a pleasant background hum. The piano increased in force and volume as we neared the 100-second mark. The piece is titled Lewitt.

On this 300th Disquiet Junto Project, Suss Müsik extends sincere appreciation to Marc for kickstarting the endeavor, and to all who share your gifts of creativity and fellowship every week. Thank you for letting Suss Müsik be a part of it.

Junto Project 0299: 10 BPM Waltz

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 project was organized by One Take Records as part of the 10 BPM Dance Club in Copenhagen, September 2017.

Deconstructivist architecture is designed to give the impression of fragmentation within a wholly composed building. The style is characterized by non-linear shapes that appear to distort predictable forms into controlled chaos.

Deconstructivism is a form of post-modern philosophy derived from the teachings of Jacques Derrida, who believed that absolutes were confining and that multiple meanings cannot be reconciled within a singular work. Think of it as a way of discovering hidden meanings within a structure intended to subvert them.

Suss Müsik finds the 3/4 and 6/8 time signatures to be ripe for deconstructivist composition. It’s in the downbeat where the possibilities reside, opening an endless stream of sonic possibilities. Working at a languid 10 BPM expands the field, almost to the point where there is no presence or absence and thus no downbeat to be heard. Boom-tick-tick becomes a series of ticks and booms that emerge randomly.

For this piece, Suss Müsik sought to deconstruct the downbeat using e-bows, vibes, squiggly synths, amplified wooden blocks, sheets of metal and homemade percussion. For each instrumental voice we created a “surface skin” with two variations: one at half-speed, the other one-and-a-half times faster. This ultimately created a muted din in which no slot in the 3/4 tempo was left vacant, yet everything holds to the original BPM.

We did not intend for the piece to run quite as long as it did, although we admit that working within a 10 BPM frame tends to encourage expansion. The last two minutes retained an almost Talk Talk “Spirit of Eden” sort of vibe. We liked it so we let it linger a bit.

The piece is titled Derrida. The image is an abstraction taken from the side of a deconstructivist building in New Orleans.

Junto Project 0298: Dungeons & Drum Machines [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.

Paul Auster’s novel The Music of Chance centers around two men who lose a poker game to a pair of eccentric millionaires, who then confine the men to manual labor in order to pay back the debt. One of the millionaires, a former accountant, notes the interplay between numbers and the significance we assign to them (we added the bold):

“I’ve dealt with numbers all my life, of course, and after a while you begin to feel that each number has a personality of its own. A twelve is very different from a thirteen, for example. Twelve is upright, conscientious, intelligent, whereas thirteen is a loner, a shady character who won’t think twice about breaking the law to get what he wants … ten is rather simpleminded, a bland figure who always does what he’s told … I’m sure you understand what I mean. It’s all very private, but every accountant I’ve ever talked to has always said the same thing. Numbers have souls, and you can’t help but get involved with them in a personal way.”

For this piece, Suss Müsik twice rolled a 20-sided die to arrive at the numbers 17 and 02. The scale BAABBG was used as the melodic spine (to beef up the tune we added a D on the penultimate quarter note) and played on piano. Composite chords are phased in and out of visibility while a CR-78 drum pattern makes its presence felt, performing the same 488884 sequence as on piano.

Acknowledging our interest in amateurish numerology, we noted that 1702 adds up to ten and determined that this was an opportunity for the number ten to evolve beyond its persona as a “simpleminded, bland figure.” We also considered the life’s work of German geometer Max Brückner and his collection of three-dimensional polyhedral models. A hyperactive vibraphone dances around the BAABBG sequence at maximum distortion, while a muted saxophone bleats in the distance at two binaural frequencies. It’s a glorious mess.

The piece is titled Polyhedron. Personal thanks to Jason Wehmhoener for inspiring such thoughtful creativity for this project.

Junto Project 0297: Domestic Chorus [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 recorded household sounds whose primary functions are to help us remember something: an alarm clock reminds us that it’s time to wake up; a beep on the refrigerator tells us that the door has been left open; a laundry buzzer indicates that our clothes need to be removed from the dryer. In the meantime, the soothing hum of an air purifier reminds us that we are surrounded by dust mites (a fact of science we would be more than happy to forget).

Existentialist literature considers forgetfulness to be an essential attribute of the human condition. In The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, Milan Kundera describes characters for whom “space is an obstacle to progress.” The Danish philosophy Søren Kierkegaard once noted that “the most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly the one you’ll never have.” Jean-Paul Sartre sang, “Ha! to forget. How childish! How can you keep yourself from existing?” And Charles Bukowski advises us to never forget anything, ever, because “There is always somebody or something waiting for you.”

For this weird and creepy piece, Suss Müsik composed a library from the domestic sounds of everyday forgetting. You’ll hear the items already described, plus amplified room noise and the thump of a refrigerator door closing. The sounds were assembled rhythmically with minimal treatment, except for some light sampling of the dryer buzzer (resembling an oboe or bassoon) which was randomly played with an EWI device.

The piece is titled Destinesia, an urban slang term describing an instance in which one forgets the purpose of a journey upon reaching their destination. The image is an architect’s compass.