Post-classical ambient minimalism for crepuscular airports

Disquiet Junto 0273: Alarm Clocked [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.

The timing of this week’s Junto project oddly coincides with a new Suss Müsik obsession: hitting amplified objects with handmade mallets. This is the fundamental mechanical concept behind every alarm clock invented by Yi Xing, Levi Hutchins, Antoine Redier and Seth E. Thomas. The intention is to establish a firm break in a sleeper’s circadian rhythm. Once the serotonin pipeline is disrupted, there’s no going back.

An aside: striking something (or someone) with a heavy object is also a fundamental component in any Tom & Jerry or Three Stooges sequence. Suss Müsik hopes that this linkage is not taken literally in the Junto, and that no participants are harmed for the sake of creativity. For our part, we ruined a perfectly good rice cooker in the process.

For this short piece, Suss Müsik used an actual alarm clock purchased in Japan. As clocks go, this one’s pretty weird. The alarm settings include traditional bells, cute electronic songs probably lifted from video games, an odd take on Beethoven’s Für Elise, and a muffled voice shouting “hello.” We’ll let you identify which samples were used.

Anyway, the piece begins with lightly bowed and tapped guitar strings, which were run through a Vox amp on rotary reverb and recorded straight from the board. A cyclical counterpoint of marimba, synth and bass drum follows, everything rising in volume until the alarm clock announces its arrival. After the three-minute mark, clanking percussion and fuzzy bass take the listener on a tribal march to consciousness.

The piece is entitled Inemuri, named after the Japanese word for “snooze.”

Disquiet Junto 0272: Exoplanetary Intervals [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 is fascinated whenever a new planetary system is discovered. We imagine the excitement must be similar to a child finding loose change while building sand castles, albeit at a much grander cosmic scale. It’s evidence that life could have existed before we entered the scene, giving resonance to our actions.

According to an article on Gizmodo, a new Harvard University study raises the compelling evidence that the TRAPPIST-1 planets are close enough to each other that microbes could hop from one planet to another, skipping over rocks suspended in space between forms. Some scientists even suggest that life on Earth could have started this way, but don’t tell your Sunday School teacher that.

For this short piece, Suss Müsik created a series of simple polyrhythms on piano: 3:2, 4:3, 5:3 and what we think is sort of close to 8:5 (we lost count). These phrases were cycled “in orbit,” giving the effect of emerging and receding into listening distance. Individual notes were then allowed to “travel” from one phrase to another within a four-octave range.

The piece is titled Panspermia, named after the theory that life on our planet originated from chemical microorganisms who traveled through outer space searching for an environment suitable for habitat. The image is a chunk of marble pilfered from the cliffs of Carrara, Italy.

Disquiet Junto 0271: Prison Sky [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.

“Wait, for now,” wrote the poet Galway Kinnell. “Distrust everything, if you have to. But trust the hours.”

When one is incarcerated, life is nothing but empty hours. It’s a peculiar sort of time that is both structured and unstructured, shaped by the constraints of geometry and dictated by astronomical cycles. If one is fortunate to have a window to the outdoors, the view of the sky is framed not only by the size of the opening but also the sun’s rotation on its axis. Six hours of sky, half a meter square.

The ordeal of Bassel Khartabil is a heartbreaking love story. Suss Müsik imagines Noura Ghazi staring out her window and wondering if her husband might be alive or dead. Perhaps there was a moment when they gazed upon the same patch of sky at the same time, their thoughts locked as one.

For this piece, a melodic phrase is twinned on piano and flute accompanied by organ. The mood shifts at the 2:30 mark and becomes increasingly more foreboding. A drum machine clicks off time as the atmosphere deadens, recalling the anxious footsteps of a loved one awaiting bad news that may never arrive.

The piece is named after the Arabic word for “heart.”

Disquiet Junto 0268: In Tribute to Jiro Taniguchi [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 recalls reading an interview with Ryuichi Sakamoto, another Japanese legend who had a strong affinity for walking. Sakamoto mentioned his dislike for automobiles and admitted that he had never driven a car in his life; however, he enjoyed the sound that cars make while in operation.

Walking is a solitary activity that lends itself to mind expansion. We rarely concentrate on the destination or even the process of getting somewhere. Rather, we remain lost in our own thoughts as images and sounds blend into the background, superseded by the bitter noise within.

For this short, quiet piece, Suss Müsik consciously investigated “the space between” while walking. A simple piano motif replicates the heavy, soft footsteps we heard during our nocturnal stroll: thalum-thum, thalum-thum. In the background is the sampled sound of a distant train, manipulated beyond recognition, which accents the phased piano.

A strange thing occurs just after the two-minute mark, where it sounds as if nothing is happening even though the mix appears rather busy. That moment operates, perhaps, as a metaphor for how the mind travels while not thinking of anything in particular.

The piece is titled Mawaru, a Japanese word meaning to “wander about.” It can also mean to feel dizzy. The image is the rear plate of a plastic timepiece — we liked the little arrows.

Disquiet Junto 0267: The Metronomic Society [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.

Metronomes are based around predictability. In group musical performance, metronomes are necessary for accurate timekeeping. Even if an actual device isn’t available, at least one participant (usually the drummer) is responsible for ensuring that everyone knows how to count in: “And a one, and a two, and a three, and a four … rock and roll, hoochie koo.”

Metronomes are also the spine of anarchy, because every form of resistance hinges upon our interpretation of constraints. In probability theory, Bayes’ Law tells us that the likelihood of an event taking place can be determined by studying its conditions. The more evidence that is gathered, for example, the more likely we are to believe or not believe that something may or may not happen. Which explains everything about gambling and nothing about predicting weather.

For this short piece, Suss Müsik recorded a single percussive hit and replayed it by splitting the phrase and moving up one octave. The sequence was sampled and replayed with varying amounts of reverse-reverb. At times, the original phrase seemed to drown in its own echo before resuming its march. We went on for awhile and then stopped when it got tiresome, as all metronomes do at some point.

The piece is titled Bayesia and may eventually become a more substantial work. The image is an arrangement of clear acrylic blocks.

Disquiet Junto 0264: Time Travel [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.

God: You can never change the future. The past, yes, but not the future.

Lucifer: How do you change the past?

God: Why, the past is always changing—nobody remembers anything. But the future can no more be turned away than the light flowing off the moon.

This bit of dialogue is from Arthur Miller’s underrated play The Creation of the World and Other Business. It comes at a crucial point in the narrative where Lucifer admits to God that he compelled Eve & Adam to partake of the forbidden fruit, an act that ultimately banished God’s children from the Garden of Eden.

Time travel is not impossible; we are always revisiting past events in our efforts to understand the present, and our attempts to predict the future often arise from moments of stagnate contemplation. Anyone who has experienced the feeling of traveling by air or rail understands the dichotomy between moving and not moving, not unlike how a great piece of music rewards the listener’s investment by making time stand still.

For this short piece, Suss Müsik literally went back in time—ten years, to be exact. The source material is an eight-bar guitar phrase played with a Danelectro 12SDC 12-string in 2007. The sample was chopped through a Korg ToneWorks 411X processor and recorded live from a Vox AD30VT. The binaural motion cycles for about two minutes or so before the reverse reverb winds it down, coming almost to a halt. The momentary respite allows for a calming pause before the cymbals announce their arrival.

The piece is entitled Trammel, a word to describe something that restricts or impedes one’s freedom of action.

Eclipsa

“Words have a hypnotic thing about them. To me they have connotations that are kind of blinding, a buzz in my head. I picked that up from trying to be like Dylan Thomas. If you’re going to try and be like Dylan Thomas you don’t really need to make sense all the time. Understanding the noise will get you through.”

~John Cale

Eclipsa coverIt was a full moon last night. Those who work in police and emergency medical services anecdotally claim that the full moon results in busier work shifts. This perception may be rooted more in personal psychology than statistical reality, yet common knowledge insists that crisis severity is accentuated by 30-day extremes in the lunar cycle. It’s human nature.

Things have been a little crazy of late on the world stage, much like a ball of yarn unraveling to its core. Those who are paid to interpret what is happening tend to blur the distinction between fact and opinion; those who make important decisions do so under a miasma of verbiage intended to confuse, rather than explain. In our attempts to deconstruct what has been said, we apply a layer of bias to confirm intentions that may or may not exist. It’s human nature.

Suss Müsik has created a 50-minute piece that operates as both distraction and sedation. Instruments are buried under a thin veil of amplifier noise, creating a restful calm despite the unrelenting dissonance. The piece is titled Eclipsa, which means “obfuscate” in the Catalan language of eastern Spain, and is available as a free download on SoundCloud or BandCamp.

A final thought: according to a 1968 essay by Philip Larkin, Dylan Thomas believed that William Butler Yeats was the greatest poet of his generation. The following verse from Yeats’ “The Second Coming” seems eerily prescient:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Update 01/16/17: Due to the album’s popularity on Bandcamp, Suss Müsik has exceeded our monthly allocation of free download credits. We’ve set a low price of $2 USD until our credits refresh on 02/15/17, at which point we’ll again offer the album as a free download for one month or until credits run out. Suss Müsik sincerely thanks everyone for their continued interest in what we do — hope you enjoy it.

Disquiet Junto 0262: Ice Code [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 doesn’t believe in coincidence. The timing of this week’s Junto occurs with our current interest in using environmental noise as a compositional element. Also, it’s snowing outside.

The sound of ice hitting glass is inherently percussive. Live sampling allows simple yet compelling rhythmic structures to form. This technique was used to great effect by such artists as Kate Bush (think “Army Dreamers” or “Babooshka” on her album Never For Ever) and Pink Floyd’s famous use of a cash register on “Money.”

This short piece employs three short phrases played in counterpoint on violin, flute and piano, each missing a note at various points. Ice cubes were dropped into a glass tumbler to create the rhythm. (It’s surprisingly difficult to keep accurate time with melting ice — the cubes get slippery). A Boss RV-5 was used for the echoey ice-clink harmonics near the end. Some sort of weird phasing happened in there, but Suss Müsik has no fear of happy accidents so we left it in.

The piece is titled Syllogism, which is a form of deductive reasoning in which three categorical propositions are used to arrive at a false conclusion whose premise is at least one third invalid. We all know the feeling.

Suss Müsik gives a nod to Progchattery777 (who has a wonderful YouTube channel) for reawakening our appreciation of Kate Bush’s early-1980’s work. Special thanks to artist C. Koustourlis for playing the ice.

Disquiet Junto 0259: Lost Signals [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 is intrigued by the idea of sound being both there and not there. Every horror movie has at least one scene where someone asks, “Did you hear that?” The other person replies, “Hear what?” Panic ensues.

We’re reminded of the post-apocalyptic scenario described by science fiction author John Wyndham, who wrote The Day of the Triffids about a species of plant that blinds people when they look at it. The intent is clear: we can’t trust our senses because they are so easily disrupted.

Suss Müsik is further intrigued by non-verbal communication. When T.E Grau describes an “odd chanting like a spectral dirge,” it’s easy to envision that the ghostly transmitted message being heard is a warning of some kind.

Grau’s mention of a “lonely Indian powow” recalls the Northern Paiute religious leader and prophet Wovoka, founder of the Ghost Dance movement in 1890. The Ghost Dance was used by Native American tribes to call upon ancient spirits following the Wounded Knee Massacre, in the hope that the ritual would help them reclaim the earth they had lost.

For this short piece, Suss Müsik sought to summon the lost voices hidden between static noise and the instrumentation of chance. One of the guitars was strummed with a jar of rocks on the strings; another was played by dropping pebbles and metallic objects on its fretboard. Cables were scraped with a file. The odd percussion is a handsaw tapped with a mallet; other saws were “played” conventionally by actually cutting things.

Somewhere along the way, an odd timbre emerged that resembled a human voice or hiccup. It sounded weird but we liked it. The result is something like a brief personal encounter, two bodies moving at different speeds in different directions, intersecting at an unrepeatable point in time.

This is a reconfigured excerpt of a longer composition entitled Wovoka, which means “wood cutter” in the Northern Paiute language. Anisotropy is when a physical property has different values depending on how it’s measured. The image is a cut glass lens refracting a single point of light.