Posts Tagged ‘Mick Sussman’

DL only – Self Released – 15th July 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Four months on from the original Kressel Studies release, Mick Sussman delivers a second volume of ‘algorithmic studies’ which explore ‘new rhythmic and timbral techniques’ The accompanying text explains that ‘as with the previous volume of Kressel Studies, these pieces are brief and generated from compact nuggets of computer code. But they form a varied procession of musical thoughts, some severe and some almost merry.’

I wrote of the first back in March that Sussman took the listener ‘deep into skittery microtonal bleeping territory’, and this twenty-one track collection of snippety fragments of drones, hums, bleeps and yawning extraneous and quivering noises follows the same experimental trajectory. And as one may reasonably expect, Vol 2 is more of the same, only different – but not very.

‘kr40P1p5’ is a jittery, skittery melange of synths, and ‘kr40P1p5’ is similarly brain-bending, but even more fractured and dizzying, as stunted notes bounce and ricochet every which way in a kind of Brownian motion. ‘Kr42p2p5’ is a swampy soup of straining analogue, while ‘kr42p2p7’ is a fizzing morass of whupping phase and stunning static hiss that’s churned to a spacey foam.

R2D2 bleeps and whistles and retro-futurism clash with short blasts of power-electronics noise, and this is very much a work which is preoccupied with sound rather than sense, conjuring a wibbly-bibbly world of weirdness.

It’s very much a mixed bag of oddities, and if, like its predecessor, it sounds like so much dicking about in the studio, then that’s because it really is, although that’s no criticism. The blurb explains that across the album, ‘some [tracks] veer toward pure noise, like Kr. 42.2.3, while others have a lighter melodic flavor, like Kr. 42.3.1. And some split the difference, with rough-textured grooves, like 44.2.1.’ And perhaps, rather than view this as an album in the conventional sense, it should be held up against the sound effects alums of the 70s and 80s, the likes of which were recorded by the BBC Radiophonic workshop.

With each piece – compositions is a stretch, at least as a musical descriptor: any composition involved is digital coding as Sussman plays with the parameters of programming – so brief, the listener doesn’t get the opportunity to settle, and is instead slapped by a quickfire succession of sonic assaults presented as sketches that flit across the full range of textures and tones, and at a pace that’s sometimes bewildering.

It does work – again, not as an album, but a collection of random sounds and sonic experiments.



Carrier Records – CARRIER049

Christopher Nosnibor

We’re deep into skittery microtonal bleeping territory with this 24-track extravaganza. Sussman’s work is algorithm-based, meaning there’s a certain formality to the proceedings, however chaotic the notations become. And they do indeed become chaotic, explosive,

The first of these tiny sonic snippets, ‘Kr 22.2.6’ is a hyperspeeded barrage of blips that sounds not dissimilar to the old dial-up sound. Wonky chimes and clanging digital bongs abound, along with stammering, clattering metallic beats and popping electronic arrythmia jitter through EQ filters.

Variety comes in the form of splurging squelches, parping electronic squiggles that wobble digital farts: ‘Kr 28.1.6’ almost forges a semblance of a funk groove from the bubbling sonic swap. In contrast, ‘Kr 29.4.13’ ebbs and flows ins surging pulsations that set the teeth and nerves on edge with a squall of digital fizz’, while ‘Kr 30.3.14’ is fun but warped, a detuned piano bouncing every which way in a tidal wash of delay. ‘Kr 31.3.18’sounds like a call from a mobile phone in a washing machine, while ‘Kr 33.5.8’ is a sparking digital blastbeat that showers treble explosions are several hundred shards per minute.

The album as a whole is a morass of digital experimentation, and each piece is but a fragment, with running times ranging from 2:28 to 2:49. It’s bewildering, disorientating, difficult. It isn’t for everyone. But it is interesting.



The Sublunar Society 053 – 11th May 2018

James Wells

Just as Facebook advertising and Amazon recommendations prove that algorithms can be applied usefully but are no substitute for human input.

Of course, The Rosenberg Algorithmic Music Generator is subject to human input, in that it was created by Mick Sussman himself. A programme is designed to ‘compose’ ‘unique’ music, by ‘making decisions based on a sequence of randomised processes.’ The nineteen compositions collected here seem to suggest a greater leaning toward the random than the musical. There are notes and there are rhythms, but none of them seem to coordinate with one another, and the sounds are trebly synthetic, 80s computer gamey. The cover art has obvious ‘matrix’ connotations, and tells much of the story of what The Rosenberg Algorithmic Music Generator is about. Only, this is the sound of the matrix collapsing, of being stretched and pulled in all directions, twisted and tossed.

Sussman observes in the liner notes that in programming terms, Rosenberg is a primitive piece of coding, but is sufficiently versatile to enable him to vary musical phrasings and tempos – to the extent that one option enables the user to allocate a different tempo to each instrument. Why would anyone do this? Because, I suppose. It’s an indication of Sussman’s adoption of avant-garde principles, to disassemble and reconfigure that which has gone before, to build anew. It may well be that no-one has done this before not because they haven’t thought of it, but because they didn’t want to, but that’s every reason for Sussman to be the first.

The result is a disorientating, bleepy, bloopy clamour of sound, with digital notes flying in all directions in an exercise where the concept is considerably more appealing than the experience of the end product.


Mick Sussman – The Rosenberg Algorithmic Music Generator