Robot Drummers & Knock Sensors

Suss Müsik continues making weird things that make weird sounds. The most recent addition to the DIY instrument family is a percussive trigger device, which uses piezo “knock” sensors to send MIDI information to a sampling synth.

knock-sensor midi device

The first prototype utilized handmade knock sensor drum pads that, when struck, trigger damaged text-to-speech output. In this video, a hidden foot pedal controls the amount of distress put on the sound. A weird sort of phasing takes place when a pad is struck multiple times.

The next video features an upgraded firmware that plays chord clusters in various pentatonic scale composites, in this instance replicating the sound of a string quartet. A little companion device controls bow pressure, string noise, harmonics, detuning, and scrape with joysticks and knobs.

The third and final video feature the above device with handmade synth instruments built from various 1990’S computer parts. Readers of this space are familiar with Suss Müsik’s obsession with repurposing hardware from the detritus of consumer technology.

In this instance, a robotic “drummer” controlled via two servo motors plays a simple Krautrock beat, the output passed through a Meris Enzo pedal. As of this writing, the robot drummer is nameless although it seems to respond to being called Xavier.

Samples of spoken conversation were triggered by the knock-sensor percussion device, played by mallets striking against the pads. A Glitch Storm Mk II adds electronic coloring.

The piece is provisionally entitled “Multiple Undoings.”

All of these pieces were recorded live to TASCAM 8-track in February and March 2024.

“Soft Refusal” Video Performed on DIY Synths

Suss Müsik continues to build strange electronic devices that make strange sounds. The latest is a midi-sampler that triggers AI-generated audio. Built from a 1990’s Syquest drive, it resembles a steampunk adding machine.

midi-sampler built from a 1990's Syquest drive

You can see and hear the device in action in a performance video of “Soft Refusal,” a piece from Suss Müsik’s latest release New Hopes.

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.

More Collaborations with Artist B.G. Madden

Over the past year, Suss Müsik has enjoyed working with visual artist B.G. Madden on a series of art/sound collaborations. One piece explores system in nature to reveal hidden relationships between the natural work and synthetic technology. Another piece uses Madden’s work as graphic notation, rendering pigment and plaster into polyrhythmic fields.

This partnership has produced three new pieces built almost entirely from audio scans of Madden’s newest work: a series of open compositions inspired by the sculpture of Richard Serra and the architecture of Tadeo Ando. Both of these visionaries transform the brute aesthetic of their chosen materials into delicate studies of ever-shifting light.

Suss Müsik sought to accomplish a similar synthesis in sound. Madden’s work was scanned using a computer algorithm. These unendurable blobs of static were processed in real time using the major pentatonic (five-tone) scale in keys of D# and F#. The process resulted in a rich library of sonic overlaps.

The first piece, titled Montessori, combines two dissonant (yet seductive) surface textures to form an engagingly simple configuration of glitchy ambience:

The second piece, titled Corbusier, references building architecture less subtly in both its title and single-chord scaffolding. The title is derived by the educational approach that focuses on behavioral observation:

The third piece, titled Dovum, was created from Madden’s more Jan Dibbets-inspired work. The title is a mashup of the words doven (prayers recited in a Jewish liturgy) and ovum (a cell that reproduces when fertilized by its counterpart):

Marc Weidenbaum of Disquiet wrote a very kind analysis of Dovum that beautifully sums up what Suss Müsik has been trying to achieve since 2015: “a digital purity of sound that is employed to present materials whose cumulative chaos strives to approach that of the natural, analog, flesh-and-blood world.” Thank you, Marc.

The entire B.G. Madden collaboration is available for listening on SoundCloud. Discussions are underway to release a proper album and play some live dates. Stay tuned.

Update = Yet another new collaboration has arisen. The piece is titled Oort, named after astronomer Jan Oort who discovered a sphere of icy objects at the edge of our solar system and from which comets are believed to originate.

Original graphite works by B.G. Madden are shown below:

Art 1 by B.G. Madden

Art by B.G. Madden

Art 3 by B.G. Madden

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.