Post-classical ambient minimalism for crepuscular airports

A Future in Commons

“I am driven by two main philosophies,” said the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. “Know more today about the world than I knew yesterday, and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”

For the past year or so, Suss Müsik has participated in the weekly Disquiet Junto projects led by Marc Weidenbaum. For those unfamiliar, a junto is a gathering of like-minded colleagues for the purpose of sharing knowledge, friendship and conversation. The first Junto, known as the Leather Apron Club (now there’s a great name for a band), was launched by Benjamin Franklin in 1727 and lasted for 30 years.

Taking part in the Disquiet Junto has turned out to be a richly rewarding experience. We’ve made new friends and been exposed to a constellation of artistic influences from around the globe. Sadly, we were also made aware of the plight of Bassel Khartabil, a 3D modeling artist and software developer who was was detained by the Syrian government in 2012.

A Future in Commons coverSince his incarceration, human rights organizations have persistently campaigned for Khartabil’s release. His last known whereabouts was the Adra Prison in the suburbs of Damascus, Syria in October 2015. It was unknown whether Khartabil was alive or dead up until very recently, when in August 2017 his widow received confirmation that her husband had been executed.

In celebration of Khartabil’s life and work, English/Swedish musician and Junto participant Rupert Lally spearheaded the creation and release of a 31-track compilation album entitled A Future to Commons. All of the music is provided by participants of the Disquiet Junto.

Suss Müsik is honored to be a part of this moving tribute, yet we are frustrated at the senseless nature by which evil is permitted to transgress the boundaries of human existence. One might concede that from suffering can arise newly semantic forms of artistic expression, although we’d argue that a world with Bassel Khartabil alive and safe is better than one without.

The following is an excerpt from Marc Weidenbaum’s liner notes for the album:

During [Bassel Khartabil’s] incarceration, and during the extended period when his death was presumed but not yet confirmed, his story became a rallying point around the world. His plight inspired essays, and conference sessions, and political statements. And it inspired music … Facets of Bassel’s life provided several such prompts over the years. We created soundscapes to bring a new dimension to his CGI renderings. We sampled his voice and turned it into music. We created VR scores, and we tried to extrapolate sound from the poetic language of his correspondence. In the end, what we tried to do was spread word of his plight, to keep his story alive even after he was no longer.

A Future to Commons is available on Bandcamp, with all proceeds going toward the Creative Commons Bassel Khartabil Memorial Fund.

Two New Pieces

Two new pieces are starting to emerge from recent sessions. One is a sort of hypnotic, Steve Reich-style piece with marimba and authentic bird sounds. The birds were recorded just outside the Suss Müsik studio walls. It’s too early to say whether the piece will be more like Tourbillion or perhaps something else altogether.

The other new piece is a loud, messy cacophony of electric noise, somewhat building upon the themes explored on Kommunal. This piece will feature Native American ceramic flute played by John Kulias of Meadowlark Flutes. We at Suss Müsik immediately fell in love with the spatial tones of Kulias’ playing, especially when the instrument’s rich spirituality is set in a modern industrial setting. The process by which Kulias creates his flutes is a wonderful study in artisan workmanship.

Both pieces are currently in the neighborhood of 20+ minutes and take a long while to get where they’re going. They need more work and will likely comprise the next Suss Müsik release by the end of 2016.

UNSEEN series | Apertures

On June 10 in San Francisco’s Mission district, Gray Area’s UNSEEN Series will presents site-specific, collaborative performances by Bay Area artists. The show will explore current practices in immersive media, including expanded cinema, video and sound art, experimental music and technology.

The UNSEEN series is curated by Oakland artist Matt Fisher and features contributions from Suss Müsik friend and collaborator Marc Manning. Other performers/artists include Maggi Payne, Marielle Jakobson and Chuck Johnson.

Tickets are $8 presale, $13 day of show and $15 at the door. A cash bar is available to those 21 years and older.

Noumenon

A new Suss Müsik piece entitled “Noumenon” is now available for listening on SoundCloud. The piece features the contributions of New Orleans saxophonist Stephen J. Gladney, who brings a jazz-inspired phrasing that strongly recalls the work of Pharoah Sanders. Suss Müsik is moving into more lyrical, somewhat emotional territory where it’s possible to actually hear instruments in the mix. We are excited about this direction and expect further collaborations to lift the material further.

In case you’re wondering, the title derives from philosophical concept by Immanuel Kant, literally intended to mean “the thing in itself.” A noumenon is something that exists independently of how it appears to our senses. The larger idea is to define what stands on its own versus humankind’s capacity to act as an agent of change. Now you know.

Collaboration Review

Suss Müsik has been engaged in a number of productive collaborations with the wonderful artist and musician Marc Manning. Most recently, the partnership has resulted in a piece entitled Melting Square. Within 24 hours, the track attracted the most favorable attention in Suss Müsik’s short history.

The track was subsequently reviewed by Disquiet’s Marc Weidenbaum, who called the track “a moment of reflective calm before all hell breaks loose.” Mr. Manning and Suss continue to work on new material, so perhaps the comparable respite of Melting Square is short lived!