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.

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