Post-classical ambient minimalism for crepuscular airports

Junto Project 0456: Line Up [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.

According to art historian Lawrence Alloway, Agnes Martin was one of the principal pioneers of the “Hard-Edge” 1950’s painting movement. “Even where forms are not purely represented,” he wrote, “[Hard-Edge] abstract artists have tended toward a compilation of separable elements, treated as discrete entities. Forms are few and the surface immaculate … the whole picture becomes the unit. The result of this sparseness is that the spatial effect of figures on a field is avoided.”

Martin’s work evokes not only austere minimalism but also a cerebral airiness, perhaps gained from when Martin lived in New Mexico while attending university. Her work appears to vibrate off the canvas, the rigor of her craft subtly transformed into a sort of trembly dissonance. Even a simple line appears to breathe; a series of seemingly identical shapes reveal hidden nuances on close inspection.

For this piece written for fake violins, Suss Müsik interpreted Martin’s lovely 1961 work entitled Words (ink and graphic on paper, mounted on canvas) as a graphical score. The parallel lines are represented by sustained, repetitious phrases playing a single note. The triangles are conveyed through a simple 3-note counterpoint performed in consecutive sets of four, four, six, six, six, six, four and four.

The piece is titled Words and was recorded live with one overdub for piano embellishment.

Co-Process Volume 2 Released

Co-Process Volume 2 coverSuss Müsik amassed enough decent material from the latest collaborations with artist B.G. Madden to put out a proper release. Co-Process Volume 2 continues the path forged by Co-Process released earlier this year. It’s all glitchy, droney, ambient weirdness. Sound was created from audio scans of Madden’s visual art, which was provided in the form of postcards delivered via US mail. (These quarantine days necessitate drastic creative measures). The scans were then manipulated using all sorts of technical gadgets, from grain synthesizers to DIY electronic devices. The album is available on Bandcamp, and more of Madden’s beautiful artwork can be seen here.

DIY Synth Projects

While quarantined from evil viruses, Suss Müsik spent a chunk of this past summer experimenting with DIY electronics. Among the results was a DIY instrument that creates sound from light. Marc Weidenbaum of Disquiet (origin of the excellent Disquiet Junto projects that occur every week) wrote a very kind description. Here’s a little glimpse of how this weird thing works.

Junto Project 0455: Inner Invertebrate [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.

Jellyfish have three essential life functions. They eat, have sex, then they die. The rest of the time, they simply float about the water trying to avoid being attacked by predators. It’s not a bad way to live.

The jellyfish mating ritual is typically the outcome of chance encounters experienced while drifting about the ocean currents. Think of it like aquatic low-speed dating in today’s pandemic climate, with potential partners randomly hooking up while trying to stay away from each other.

Suss Müsik considered the art of avoidance in developing this short piece. Two synth engines were modulated to allow their waveforms to “drift” unpredictably, with a small dollop of spring-reverse reverb to create a “bounceback” effect. An alternating pattern for fake dulcimer provides the melodic “current” that brings these two mates together.

Jellyfish die not long after mating, and such is the case with this piece. A few brief piano notes symbolize the fertilization process and portend the coming demise. What once was clear becomes opaque and drops to the ocean floor.

The piece is titled Scyphozoa. The image is a public domain photograph by Lydia Jacobs.

Junto Project 0454: Lsoo Vneg [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.

This is a piece written for a special lady who turns five years old this week.

Numerology of names and birth dates is an inexact science. Suss Müsik used different methods to arrive at a base number of seven for this piece, with the Pythagorean values of six, three and four serving as “support” figures.

The piece began with a little seven-note piano phrase in the key of G (seventh letter of the alphabet), which forms the spine of the composition. Another four-note bit was added to the end, then inverted for one bar of fake strings. Another bar of fake strings uses a six-note variation.

Both string segments were then refactored for effects piano in phrases of six and three notes. Some heavily treated fake woodwinds take turns dancing around the original seven-note scale.

Suss Müsik intended to write this in a time signature of seven, but counting out the final rest reveals that it appears to have drifted back to eight. A metaphor, perhaps, for how time catches up to all of us.

The piece is titled 7ulia. The image was created on a drawing scratch card and is used by secret permission on behalf of the artist.

Junto Project 0449: Page Machine [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 his book Tales of Beatnik Glory, Beat writer and former Fugs co-leader Ed Sanders combines elements of classical Greek literature with the avant-garde bohemia of 1960’s New York City. Sanders poem, “Sappho on East Seventh,” constructs an East Village fantasia where the poem’s protagonist is haunted by visions of the Tenth Muse.

Sanders’ poems are visually inventive, with their creative use of tab-indents and double-spacing. His lines appear to sing from the page, with the occasional sketch or handwritten word to be found in the poem’s margins.

page

For this short piece, Suss Müsik studied the composition of a single page to detect three distinct patterns. The vertical margins create the body of major-scale notes, which are split between two diagonals at the lines “There was a near-sob tremble” and “The wall cleaved apart.” The two capital O’s signify two percussive hits that repeat in a phased loop.

The piece is titled Sappho and was recorded on piano and prepared mbira fitted with piezo pickups.

Rubbery Collaborations Using Lines

Another in a series of collaborations with visual artist B.G. Madden, this time using his rendering as a scaled audio map. Larger images with more white create higher frequencies, with the scan following the dark lined pattern. The tiny lines resulted in digital “grit” artifacts. The piece is titled Vincula, which represents a band of connective tissue that holds a ligament together.

Junto Project 0446: Celebrate World Listening Day [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.

Dysharmonia is a neurological condition in which someone loses the ability to hear musical instruments playing in unison. In extreme cases of congenital amusia, a patient is unable to differentiate between environmental sounds and musical voices. Oliver Sacks devotes an entire chapter to this topic in his excellent book Musicophilia.

Our participation in “the collective field” must require some degree of integration with one’s auditory environment. There are internal sounds as well; our capacity to listen might be compromised by the bitter noise within. In these turbulent times, we may find it impossible to be still while the world rages around us.

For this week’s Disquiet Junto, Suss Müsik sought to recreate a vibroacoustic timbre through disparate field recordings. You might hear birds chirping, water gurgling, the clicking of a clock, the faint calling of a faraway train. They may blend nicely for you, or they may be a hodgepodge of various tones and drones.

The piece is titled Dysharmonia and was recorded live to 8-track after a bit of prep.

Junto Project 0445: Aare Tribute [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 River Aare is notable for its turquoise color, which gets bluer and richer as the weather in Bern gets warmer. Minerals from the surrounding mountains drain into the Aare via melting snow and ice, leaving an exotic cocktail of minerals in the water. Some locals suggest that the blue color has intensified over the years, as more glaciers melt due to overall warming of the earth’s atmosphere.

The color of the Aare was the start of Suss Müsik’s tribute to one of Europe’s most beautiful and overlooked geographies. The piece begins with a blast of “blue noise” generated by a grain synth, sequenced according to conversion maps drawn in the shape of the River Aare.

map of River Aare

The supplied image of the river and surrounding hotspots was then converted to high-contrast, binary tones. The resulting picture was then scanned as a high-resolution audio file and processed into samples. These were sequenced according to the matrix of hotspots as they appear on the original map. What resulted was a series of little blips and blorps in the key of B.

All of these components were then played and recorded live to 8-track.

The work process employed by Suss Müsik is similar to that used for an ongoing collaboration with visual artist B.G. Madden, whose first name coincidentally is Bern.

The piece is entitled Aare. Thanks and kudos to Tobias Reber for proposing such an interesting Junto project.

Artistic Collaborations

Suss Müsik continues a very fruitful collaboration with visual artist B.G. Madden. The latest piece, titled Dotto, was rendered from audio scans of Madden’s most recent work.

Given current pandemic conditions, Madden delivered his contributions via US mail in the form of handmade post cards. The new pieces are beautifully reminiscent of post-modern “picture theorists” from the late 1980’s: Richard Prince, Annette Lemieux, and especially the late John Baldessari. The scanned output was then filtered through grain synthesizers and Moog modulation boxes.

Suss Müsik has lagged behind the Quarantine Concert series. Dotto will likely be the next piece “performed.” Or maybe something different. The new social archetype is ambiguity, and Suss Müsik embraces it.

In related news, Suss Müsik’s piece entitled Attaché (also a collaborative work, this time employing Madden’s art as graphic notation) will be featured at this year’s New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival (NYCEMF). Again due to the global pandemic, the entire concert series is taking place virtually. Some great work there to be heard, however, and you don’t even have to leave your house.