Junto Project 0329: Extended Version

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.

“Wood turns electric,” wrote the late Grant McLennan, co-leader of the under-appreciated Go-Betweens. McLennan at first wanted to write and direct movies. In fact, it was a shared attraction to cinema that caused him and Robert Forster to meet and form one of Australia’s best-loved bands.

A semi-hollow body guitar offers a number of ways to create sound, the perfect meld of wood and electricity. It can be strummed or picked conventionally. It can be turned over and played like a percussion instrument. The strings are thick enough to make a satisfying scrape with a piece of metal, and the mere touch of an e-bow results in a wonderfully dissonant effect. All of this is possible even before plugging it in.

For this weird (and probably unlistenable) piece, Suss Müsik explored the hidden nuances of the semi-hollow body guitar. Each part was recorded live to 8-track through a Boss RV-3 pedal and then mixed dry, minus a bit of EQ and compression to fatten the sound a bit. No other instruments were used or abused.

Here’s how the sausage was made:

The opening drones were created by raising the strings with an aluminum tube and lightly tapping them with rubber mallets. The extended buzz-drones were made by loosening the strings while moving an e-bow up and down the guitar body. (Note: the effect is better with double-coil pickups, perhaps because there is more electromagnetic surface area).

That nonsense out of the way, the instrument was plugged into a Vox amp and randomly strummed through a Red Panda Tensor pedal. It’s at this point Suss Müsik remembered that the guitar had yet to be properly tuned, so attention was placed on the lowest string while randomly twisting the peg in both directions.

The percussive bits came about by slapping and pounding the back of the instrument. Those who have studied African drumming might recognize the rhythmic pattern as a warm-up exercise from the Babtunde Olatunji songbook.

The piece is titled Ifamọra, the Yoruba word meaning “attraction.” Yoruba is an official language spoken in the southwestern part of Nigeria.

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