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.

Decatenation, The Ongoing Saga

Suss Müsik is no longer perplexed as to why the upcoming release Decatenation is taking so long. What resulted was a simple acknowledgement that the quality and running order of the pieces simply weren’t up to scratch. Also, our participation in the weekly Disquiet Junto projects made for a very pleasant and fertile distraction these past few months.

In any event, a combination of new and newly-written material will lead to the distribution of this release. Two tracks from the original running order have been cut, while six others are undergoing transformation. Half the material are reworks of Junto contributions. In fact, one track is a rework of a rework of an edit of a rework. Now you know.

The one track that has persisted in its originally submitted form is Mudlairing, which is available for preview on YouTube and SoundCloud.

Weird Combinations

Lately, Suss Müsik has been exploring a number of odd combinations in our compositions. The latest transgression in our musical roadmap can only be described as “what would happen if Brian Eno collaborated with Black Sabbath while recording My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.” That should give you some idea of what this monstrosity sounds like. Another way to describe the piece is that it’s rough, sloppy, loud and mechanical. We really like it, of course.

The new piece obviously needs to go through a gestation period; however, this might be what Decatenation needs before its delayed release sees the light of day.

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.

Decatenation Update

Suss Müsik has held up the release of Decatenation for the purpose of quality control. The album’s contents fit cleanly into three categories:

  1. Pieces that sound great but compositionally aren’t as strong as we would prefer.
  2. Pieces that stand alone compositionally but, for one reason or another, don’t sound great when taken as a totality.
  3. Pieces that sound good and are compositionally strong but have grown tiresome to our ears. You know what that’s like.

Given the above, there is a better than average chance that Suss Müsik will develop some new material before Decatenation sees its release. This will be our first commercially distributed launch beyond the confines of Bandcamp, so we want to make it a good one.

To the eight or so Suss Müsik fans eagerly awaiting this release, so just bear with us a bit. Thanks for your interest.

Disquiet Junto Project 0257: Remember Noisevember [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 fans (all seven of them) might be surprised to learn that Suss Müsik loves noise. We grew up on sweaty punk rock, after all, and our explorations in ambient minimalism are often the result of careful distillation, filtered over time from origins of pure dissonance. Our saxophonist is a disciple of Pharaoh Sanders, creating squalls of atonal mayhem that prevents the final output from becoming too docile.

Peter Hammill once said, “Too much politeness in music — whatever style of music it is — is usually very bad news.” Noise isn’t simply a matter of turning up the distortion and letting’er rip. We are reminded of the music of Faust, Einstürzende Neubauten, Diamanda Galas, Negativland, Luigi Russolo, even the post-classical works of Henry Cowell and Igor Stravinsky, all of whom employ chaos and confrontation as an artistic prerogative.

Suss Müsik has been known to use power tools and other machinery in our compositions, and we’re not averse to banging the odd sheet of metal when the mood strikes.This short piece starts with the sound of a Dewalt DW745 table saw coupled with a digital synth organ. The composite was run through a Korg Toneworks 411fx into a Vox Valvetronix amp and recorded straight to disk.

The metallic sounds were created by hammering scraps of pipe and aluminum sheeting found around the workshop. A Scream distortion filter (with generous clipping) added a bit of fuzz and dampened the piercing higher frequencies. The little 4-note phrase at the end was looped while our ears recovered from all the clanging. It was great fun.