Post-classical ambient minimalism for crepuscular airports

Junto Project 0467: Toolbox Show & Tell

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.

homemade synth controlled by flashlight

SixOverEight

SixOverEight coverOut 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

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.

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.

Quiescent coverSuss 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

Egret Zero album coverThings 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.

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.

Next “Singles Project” Release

As part of a continuing effort we’re calling The Singles Project, Suss Müsik is developing an extrapolation of musical motifs centered on the invention of the telescope. The release will consist of two short pieces built around the same sonic framework with different arrangements: one performed solely on piano and violin, the other using more ornamental instrumentation (keeping with the “fake orchestra” concept) and electronics. The basic structures are in place, now on to finalizing the composition and recording/mastering the output. The release will be titled Lippershey.

Suss Müsik is PŪR Fun

Suss Müsik returns from a brief hiatus to release the eighth and latest in a series of live studio improvisations. This one uses primitive electronics, vibes, fake strings, bass, Moog synth, drums, and looped guitar feedback to create a vaguely fusion effect. Somewhat recalls Morris Pert’s work with Brand X, if a bit updated with post-rock tendencies. Recorded live to 8-track in August 2018.

This makes eight releases in the Non series. We may consider compiling these into a proper “album” at some point, or using some of this material in other ways.

Misophonia

Misophonia album coverSuss Müsik is continuing to release “The Singles Project,” a series of thematic two-track recordings each based solely on a given concept or theme. All releases are issued and distributed under the self-formed Lůno banner.

The latest of the series is titled Misophonia, now available on Bandcamp and soon to be available on your favorite music streaming vehicles: Google Play, Amazon Music, YouTube, Apple Music, iTunes, Spotify etc. Suss Müsik further penetrates the world with our post-modern nonsense.

Misophonia consists of two tracks, each around eight to ten minutes in length, based on the compositional idea of cyclical phasing. The pieces consist of percussion (mostly vibraphone and marimba), slide guitar, little rocks dropped on strings, birds, and vocals. If you love the music of Steve Reich (comparable to his album The Four Sections), then it’s possible that you might like this. Full description below:

The door to the Suss Müsik studio leads to a wooden gate, behind which is a garden where birds of all types assemble. Occasionally we walk the path with a small box of birdseed and let the creatures fight it out. At one point, we counted as many as forty birds fluttering about the property.

In totally unrelated news, Suss Müsik has been reading about the pineal gland. This is the part of the vertebrate brain that splits the two haves of the thalamus joint and produces melatonin, the hormone that modulates circadian and seasonal sleep patterns. The pineal gland is also known as “the third eye,” a term of metaphysical significance to those who pursue a higher spiritual consciousness.

There is a theory that the pineal gland is the gateway through which we are able to communicate with non-human lifeforms. Suss Müsik wonders if the birds have a similar means of instinctual, non-verbal communication. Perhaps there are sounds we find repetitive or annoying (repetitive dripping water, chewing gum, the tapping of a pencil, etc.) that enable communication with extraterrestrial species beyond our audiophiliac astral plane. But that’s another topic for another time.

Misophonia I and Misophonia II were originally composed and submitted as part of the Disquiet Junto global collective of weekly music projects.

A Record Label Called Lůno

Lůno logoSuss Müsik is in the process of remastering and reissuing a back catalogue of releases under a new label called Lůno. The whole idea of a “record label” seems wonderfully anachronistic, given the way music is distributed and consumed in today’s world driven by small screens and short attention spans.

In any event, the short-term intention is to establish a consistent and commercially accessible library of Suss Müsik material. We needed some sort of vehicle to accomplish this, so we created Lůno as a way to build a properly viable distribution network.

In the longer term, it’s not impossible that Lůno may encompass additional avenues or collaborations. There is already a YouTube channel of meditative, “sound healing” experiences which will hopefully be expanded.

The first two Lůno releases Zygotes and Hiko are available in all the usual spots: Apple/iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify, YouTube Music, and probably some other places. The next release will likely appear this coming week. All seven fans of Suss Müsik are undoubtedly teetering on the edges of their seats.