Suss Müsik has released a number of mini-albums and EP’s since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of our globe. The latest is an eight-track LP of short electro-acoustic compositions for handmade sound-making devices, fake strings, piano, percussion, barely detectable vocals, and (in one track) a penny-whistle. The album is entitled New Hopes and currently available on Bandcamp. New Hopes will soon arrive at your favorite music streaming service. In the meantime, listen and read the always entertaining liner notes.
Suss Müsik is finally getting around to updating the digital discography. Now available via your streaming vehicle of choice are Ex Post Facto, Paraphasia, Co-Process Volume 2, and ::. Soon to come are SixOverEight and an 80-minute version of Quiescent. Also available are the Egret Zero releases I Want To Have Faith and Exploring Shackleton, both of which received very kind reviews. You can read explanations of all releases distributed under the net label Lůno.
New EP, Unpronounceable Title
Suss Müsik accidentally recorded a new EP, titled :: (pronounced “dotbox”). Recorded in a series of improvisational weekend sessions in March 2022, these pieces seemed to hang together well as a single release. It wasn’t the intention, but Suss Müsik allows for happy accidents. Performed, in part, using handmade elecro-acoustic instrumentation and customized MIDI devices, all four pieces are reworked Disquiet Junto projects. The EP is now available on Bandcamp and soon will appear on all your favorite streaming services. Here’s the cover:
Ex Post Facto
Suss Müsik is readying a new release, a 34-minute album of reworked (and some previously released) material entitled Ex Post Facto. Here’s the cover:
Most of the tracks are decidedly kept short, between two and four minutes each. One track approaches the eight-minute mark, but for the most part the intention was to make the point and evacuate. The pieces are performed on fake strings, piano, mallet percussion, some fake woodwinds, and (on one track) a table saw.
The album is in the mixing/mastering stage and should see formal release in May 2021.
Update: Ex Post Facto has been released. Give it a listen and read the liner notes.
Junto Project 0467: Toolbox Show & Tell [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 thing with analog circuits is they follow very simple, natural laws,” says synthesizer designer and builder Jessica Rylan, “just like breaking a tree branch, or like water, or even like birds flying in a V — they push and are pushed into that pattern because it’s the path of least resistance … like you turn on the power, it’s just following whatever the vibration would do. And the sound it produces is the exact same as the electricity producing it.”
There are many such nuggets to be found in Tara Rodgers’ excellent book Pink Noises, which compiles interviews with twenty-four women working in electronic music and sound art. Rodgers’ conversation with Rylan, coupled with pandemic isolation, inspired Suss Müsik to explore the craft of DIY synthesis and digital instrument hacking.
As a result, Suss Müsik’s toolbox is now teeming with circuit boards, jumper cables, soldering equipment, resistors / capacitors / inductors of all sizes, a kaleidoscope of LED lights, touch-sensitive / knob potentiometers, plastic casing of varying sizes, and a lifetime supply of 9-volt batteries. It’s great fun.
A key learning was that acoustic instruments create sound by moving air — a string is plucked, a drum is hit, a mouthpiece receives wind — while electronic instruments make sound by moving voltage. Nature is a rich ecosystem of patterns, and the ability to manipulate patterns of electrical current is the core of synthesized music.
This short piece is an excerpt from a series of compositions played mostly with custom-built and hacked instruments. In this particular instance, you’ll hear an piezo-amplified kalimba, a homemade sawtooth oscillator, and a photo-sensitive harmonic generator played with a flashlight and touch-ring interface.
Below is a photo of that last item, and the cover image is by visual artist B.G. Madden.
Out of nowhere comes a new Suss Müsik release, a brief little six-track EP that shan’t take more than a half-hour. It’s available on Bandcamp and features instruments built or customized by Suss Müsik. Visual artist B.G. Madden did the cover. Full description below:
SixOverEight is an homage to life-as-prototype, based on the theme of adaptation.
The concept of “sixes and eights” came about organically. Sequences of notes or chord progressions (the “eights”) were performed using customized or handmade instruments. The most workable bits were then developed into short offerings (the “sixes”) and recorded live.
Coincidentally (or not), sixes and eights also refer to personality types within the Enneagram. For those unaware, the Enneagram is a complex system of patterns developed by Russ Hudson and the late Don Richard Riso.
Put in simple terms, everyone emerges from childhood with one of nine personality types dominating their outlook and behavior. Sixes, for example, tend to look outside themselves for personal validation: jobs, relationships, social status.
Eights, meanwhile, are more willing to follow their instinct. They have no problem asserting themselves (sometimes to the point of hostility) and believe their life mission is to openly challenge the world.
Identity is fluid, however, as are all forms of survival. The human experience is defined by our capacity for resilience. As the year 2020 draws to a close, may we all support each other in mutual adaptation.
Instruments used include: prepared piano; piezo-amplified kalimba; homemade sawtooth synth; distressed fake marimba; open D-tuned Artiphon INSTRUMENT-1 (3D-printed frame) with custom voices; photo-sensitive synth played with a flashlight.
Co-Process Volume 2 Released
Suss 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.
For Those Confined to Shelter in Place
We’re navigating a period of tremendous challenge. Hopefully most of us will emerge on the other side. Of greater concern is the state of our communities and whether we’re strong enough — physically, spiritually, economically — to survive what will likely be degradation of historical proportion.
Suss Müsik can’t mass-produce hospital equipment or develop vaccines. Suss Müsik can’t even tell you that everything is going to be all right, because who knows what’s going to happen.
The only thing Suss Müsik knows how to do is make sounds. A number of listeners report that some of Suss Müsik’s output has a calming effect on them, a sort of vibroacoustic conditioning that elevates concentration, improves mental outlook, and reduces stress.
Suss Müsik won’t even begin to pretend that an hour of ambient noise will successfully halt the decimation of global life. All that can be hoped is that, possibly, this piece can serve as a mentally therapeutic diversion for those who need it.
The piece is called Quiescent and is offered for free to anyone* who wants it. The running time is exactly 55-minutes. Put it on as background while you work, meditate, mourn, heal or rest. Or listen intently and think about a better future that can’t arrive fast enough.
*Subject to Bandcamp limitations on free downloads per month. If the download isn’t available, contact Suss Müsik and a download link will be provided to you.
Egret Zero EP
Things slowed down a bit on the Suss Müsik communications network; however, there was a great deal of activity behind the scenes. For one thing, we launched a new musical project with the very talented Wm. Wolfgang Allen called Egret Zero.
The first EP was released at the end of 2019, with easily another three albums’ worth of material yet to be mined. The EP is available on all the usual channels (YouTube, Spotify, Amazon, Bandcamp) with a possible vinyl release under discussion.
There is every possibility that Mr. Allen will release at least one or two solo albums within short distance as well, and you would be well within your senses to explore his guitar and electronic landscapes when they become available.
Suss 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.