The word "hiko" is one of several terms used by Eskimos to describe ice. According to the theory of linguistic relativity, a language's structure is tightly bound to the culture in which it is spoken. Eskimo languages are polysynthetic, meaning that morphemes are invented organically through everyday usage: a suffix added here, a prefix deleted there.
Glaciers undergo a similar process of fissure and restoration. During winter, enormous sheets of polar ice laboriously drift towards the sea. These giants thaw in summer, breaking into chunks to be later reconstituted into the frozen bulk. Increasingly warmer global temperatures have created what scientists call "ice mélanges" where glacial ice becomes granular and slushy, slowing movement and inhibiting the regeneration process.
For these two works composed as a suite, Suss Müsik sought to represent varying textures of glacial ice using sound. The first movement of Hiko I explores the viscous, wintry state of glaciers traveling at the speed of molasses. The second movement of Hiko I represents the thawing and breaking of glacial ice during summer.
Hiko I is composed for cello, violin, Moog synthesizer, ice cubes, flute, organ and piano. The echoey ice-clink harmonics heard at the end of the piece are the result of the Moog effects processor filtering the sound of ice cubes being cracked.
For Hiko II, larger fragments are broken and diffused to depict the ice mélange as a state of purgatory. The smallest components are constantly in motion, yet there is no reconstructive outcome to conclude the piece.
Hiko II is composed for violin, viola, cello, vibraphone, vocals, mellotron, piano, tuba, trombone, Moog synthesizer and ice cubes. The sampled ice cubes were clipped and sequenced to resemble a percussion instrument played with mallets.
Music is a form of language, and the sound of ice hitting glass is inherently percussive. Both of these pieces use the live sound of ice cubes being dropped into a glass tumbler. (It's surprisingly difficult to keep accurate time with melting ice — the cubes get slippery after a while).
Hiko I and Hiko II were originally composed and submitted as part of the Disquiet Junto global collective of weekly music projects. More information at disquiet.com/2012/01/27/the-disquiet-junto/