If you were to go back in time and flip through the record collection of 13-year-old Suss Müsik, you might discover a few surprises. Tucked somewhere between Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and the odd Brothers Johnson album, you’ll find the heavy metal classic Paranoid by Black Sabbath. Even today, a casual listen of “Fairies Wear Boots” is impossible to resist. Arms raised, convulsive head shaking, ‘devil horns’ hand gestures … the whole bit.
Birmingham in the 1970’s was a largely working class city, its economic infrastructure dependent on factories and manufacturing. The sound of early Black Sabbath reflects their industrial surroundings: a chugging, blues-influenced slog characterized by low guitar tunings and beastly repetitive rhythmic structures. It was primordial sludge with a lyrical penchant for examining one’s sense of identity under traumatic (and chemically self-induced) conditions.
Suss Müsik wonders if Paranoid had been a different sort of album had the band emerged from, say, London or Berlin. “The ability of each organism to respond to environmental challenges introduces a degree of uncertainty into the physical word,” wrote the physicist Louise B. Young in her book The Unfinished Universe. “Consciousness is the central experience of life … even the most elementary inert forms of matter act in a manner which extends their own existence [over] time.” The appeal of heavy metal music, despite the genre’s increased sophistication and diversity, remains fundamentally distinct: RAWK OUT, DUDE.
Suss Müsik created this warped piece as a sort of homage to “uncertain” heavy metal, investigating the nuances between cosmic self-examination and our rudimentary (almost primal) compulsion for survival. Think of it as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs set to 4/4 time with lots of guitars. It’s no “War Pigs” or “Iron Man,” but you might bob your head a bit. Bonus pseudo-mystical nonsense included free of charge.
The piece is titled Dopamine, the brain chemical linked to feelings of pleasure yet known to cause paranoid anxiety when administered in high amounts.