AMN Reviews: SUSS – High Line (2019; Northern Spy Records)

SUSS exists in their own self-made category – instrumental desert ambient crossed with country / western. High Line is their follow-up to last year’s Ghost Box, and explores the same general territory. Acoustic and steel guitars combine with harmonica, mandolin, and bits of bass, percussion, and processing. Slow themes that evoke sparse, windswept landscapes are prevalent throughout the album’s 12 tracks, all in the 2-5 minute range.

Picked and strummed guitar chords accompany gentle drones that evolve at a relaxed place. SUSS is no hurry to get anywhere in particular – their emphasis is on the natural beauty and process of the journey, not the goal of the destination. As such, the pieces on High Line are not tunes per se. The melodies are subtle, perhaps moody, and accompanied by echoing and twangs that serve as effects to accentuate the layers of ambiance.

Last year I referred to Ghost Box as an imagined collaboration between Brian Eno and Ennio Morricone, and I will stand by those words for High Line. Not overtly outside, SUSS manages to be both innovative and compelling in an effortless fashion. If you enjoyed Ghost Box, don’t hesitate to try this one.