Post-classical ambient minimalism for crepuscular airports

Junto Project 0375: Despite Yourself [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.

If you were to go back in time and flip through the record collection of 13-year-old Suss Müsik, you might discover a few surprises. Tucked somewhere between Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and the odd Brothers Johnson album, you’ll find the heavy metal classic Paranoid by Black Sabbath. Even today, a casual listen of “Fairies Wear Boots” is impossible to resist. Arms raised, convulsive head shaking, ‘devil horns’ hand gestures … the whole bit.

Birmingham in the 1970’s was a largely working class city, its economic infrastructure dependent on factories and manufacturing. The sound of early Black Sabbath reflects their industrial surroundings: a chugging, blues-influenced slog characterized by low guitar tunings and beastly repetitive rhythmic structures. It was primordial sludge with a lyrical penchant for examining one’s sense of identity under traumatic (and chemically self-induced) conditions.

Suss Müsik wonders if Paranoid had been a different sort of album had the band emerged from, say, London or Berlin. “The ability of each organism to respond to environmental challenges introduces a degree of uncertainty into the physical word,” wrote the physicist Louise B. Young in her book The Unfinished Universe. “Consciousness is the central experience of life … even the most elementary inert forms of matter act in a manner which extends their own existence [over] time.” The appeal of heavy metal music, despite the genre’s increased sophistication and diversity, remains fundamentally distinct: RAWK OUT, DUDE.

Suss Müsik created this warped piece as a sort of homage to “uncertain” heavy metal, investigating the nuances between cosmic self-examination and our rudimentary (almost primal) compulsion for survival. Think of it as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs set to 4/4 time with lots of guitars. It’s no “War Pigs” or “Iron Man,” but you might bob your head a bit. Bonus pseudo-mystical nonsense included free of charge.

The piece is titled Dopamine, the brain chemical linked to feelings of pleasure yet known to cause paranoid anxiety when administered in high amounts.

Junto Project 0374: Glitch 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.

Glitch can be interpreted as a form of deception. Technological malfunctions impede the transference of accurate or complete information, akin to how human being lie in order to shroud an unpleasant truth.

A double-glitch is akin to a poignant human arrangement in which two people willingly deceive one another, relinquishing any semblance of trust in order to achieve mutual recognition. “Therefore I lie with her, and she with me,” wrote Shakespeare in Sonnet 138. “And in our faults by lies we flattered be.”

Suss Müsik mourned the loss of Mark Hollis this week. Even during Talk Talk’s relatively commercial phase as a viable mid-1980’s synth-pop band, one can hear undercurrents of instrumental distress. Listen to the guitar on “Life’s What You Make It,” for example. A friend of Suss Müsik described the guitar tone as sounding like “it doesn’t even want to be there,” which brings to mind the uneasy relationship that musicians sometimes have with their instruments.

For this weird piece, Suss Müsik sought to explore the dynamic between humans and musical instruments in the form of glitch mechanics. A simple acoustic guitar phrase was played live and recorded to disk. The digital output was spliced and reassembled as a loop. The loop was then passed through an Infinite Jets re-synthesizer and re-recorded live to 8-track.

The piece is titled Sissela, named after the Swedish author and ethicist Sissela Bok. In addition to writing the book Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life, Ms. Bok won a Nobel Peace Prize the same year Talk Talk’s debut album was released.

Artistic Collaboration: Limitrophe

A border is a sort of marker between two systems that share common attributes. While national law varies between territories, organic science has no respect for governance. Which begs the question: does the universe abide by its own set of rules, to be unearthed through examination, or does discovery occur by chance?

“The way different people have come to the same discovery independently,” wrote William H. Whyte in his 1956 book The Organization Man, “refutes the ‘great-man’ concept we cherish. It’s mostly luck who makes a discovery. If there had been no Einstein there would, in all likelihood, still be a relativity theory.”

piece by Bernard Madden

Artist Bernard Madden explores systems in nature as would a scientist, revealing hidden information and transforming meta-relationships into a new visual language. His work extrapolates these meanings into renderings of graphite, pigment and plaster, resting comfortably between avant-garde experimentation and traditional formalism. The piece Madden creates are beautifully disquieting yet energetically precise.

This piece, titled Limitrophe, is the first of a collaborative series between Suss Müsik and Bernard Madden. The first half is a series of layers: electronic fields of Moog-enhanced static, generated by an audio “scan” of Madden’s image. A base melody is performed on strings and accelerated during the piece’s coda, performed for fake orchestra using strings, brass and percussion. One field’s relative attributes informs the other, forming a clear delineation between the two approaches while maintaining their connective bond.

We are looking into possible performance/exhibition opportunities in which to further this fruitful experiment in cross-pollination. Stay tuned.

Junto Project 0371: Concrete Ambience [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.

Concrete is all structure with very little aesthetic appeal. Wallpaper, on the other hand, is all visual aesthetics with no structure. What concrete and wallpaper have in common is they both crack. The cracks that emerge destroy the structural foundation of concrete and the visual appeal of wallpaper.

“For almost everyone, the word ‘structure’ evokes a strong visual of something that has been built,” wrote Mark Eberhart in his book Why Things Break. “A civil engineer fashions designs from a palette of I-beams, reinforcing rod, and concrete … yet simply putting things together from the appropriate palette does not qualify one as an engineer.” You might be thinking this same rationale disqualifies Suss Müsik from having anything to do with musical composition. No argument here.

Anyway, Suss Müsik approached this project with the intent of exploring composition as a palette of sounds. The ‘concrete’ elements comprise a blocky phrase performed on strings and Moog synthesizer. The ‘wallpaper’ component is a nonstructural mess that has no beginning or end, requiring the buttress of a flat surface (percussion) in order to display its intent. The piece was performed live from two laptops and recorded quickly to 8-track, minus overdubbed percussion.

The piece is titled Synovial, named after the fluid that lubricates joints in the human body and allows us to crack our knuckles.

Junto Project 0366: Ice Breaker [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.

“Suddenly I saw the cold and rook-delighting heaven,” wrote the poet William Butler Yeats. “That seemed as though ice burned and was but the more ice … And I took all the blame out of all sense and reason.”

Yeats’ classic poem expresses a shift in his opinion of what heaven will offer. Without his true love, the vision he had of spending eternity in warmth is replaced with cold neutrality. Perhaps this what Talking Heads were attempting to convey when they told us, “Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.”

In totally unrelated news, Suss Müsik has been dealing with a bone fracture. One’s appreciation for human capability increases the moment it’s taken away. Still, there is the desire to get up and get on with things. Hence, what you have here is a one-armed composition for Moog synth, strings, organ, percussion, and ice cubes.

For this piece, Suss Müsik recorded ice cubes in a glass filtered through an Infinite Jets glitch processor. Select bits were resampled and patched to create the two base rhythms, one housed within the other like how a skeleton supports the human body. The remaining instruments were played and recorded live.

The piece is titled Osseous. The image is a medical ice pack, Suss Müsik’s best friend of late.

NON Released

NON coverSuss Müsik has released a new album entitled NON to close out 2018. NON is described as “four electroacoustic pieces based on live improvisations using piano, percussion, Moog synthesizers, electric guitar, primitive electronics, sampled wind instruments, hitting things, obfuscation.” This is as good a description as any. NON is available on Bandcamp and will soon be released on the usual commercial channels.

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.