Mike Vernusky

Austin-based composer Mike Vernusky writes music for concert, theatre, dance, and film, primarily using electronic sound and live performance. His works have been called ‘brash’ by the New York Times, ‘isolationist’ by The Wire, 'otherworldly' by New Music USA, and 'étonnante' by the French publication EtherReal.


Mike Vernusky’s new album “MotherSpeak” is a time-compression of the African bush-veld connecting South Africa and Botswana. Consisting of five unique sound worlds, the album takes the listener from being immersed in insects and wind, to swimming with underwater environments and entities, to exposing the intervention of the human hand in nature - finally
culminating into a live musical performance in the bush.

• All images and works composed & produced by Mike Vernusky.
• Special thanks to Vick Hallet (Melbourne, Australia) and William Mosima (Mmabolela, SA). Additional engineering support courtesy of Steve Ashby (USA/IRL), Sara Retallick (Melbourne), and Nikki Sheth (UK).

Cat: AB084

Release date: February 2019



  1. Chain D.L.K.

    Composer Mike Vernusky turns the ear into a microscope in MotherSpeak. Taking us through the African bush via electronics, field recordings, and a live performance in that very environment, the album bleeds like its listeners. “Vibrational Empire” sets the tone with insect-oriented signals, speaking not through words but through patterns of air and movement. Like the rice thrown across the ring before a sumo match begins, it delineates the space as sacred before its primal struggles begin. Only here, the contest isn’t between flesh but time. “Of Leaf And Mud” renders a crisper landscape of wind infused with whispers of human intervention before a chorus of frogs scrawls its messages across mental slate. “Eyes Aquatic” breathes underwater and measures depth in metaphysical terms. The only available method of communication respires beyond the threshold of lips and tongue, and relies instead on the music of something inherently physiological. “Clipping The Wind Stave” deepens this shape of water, funneling rain into the open mouth of a dying architecture, as if the very scaffolding of humanity were folding in on itself. All of which makes “Unmistakable Plumage” feel all the more alien, as a testimony avails us with its humanity. A man tells of his guidance, his upbringing, and his family as a way of unraveling the filament of local consciousness. This is the real linkage between South Africa and Botswana promised in the album’s press release, rendered not by cartography but by the memories of those whose feet have compacted the soil. Backgrounding this narrative—indeed, telling a story all its own—are the sounds Vernusky has collected. Sounds that others might gloss over or ignore outright, expendable in their lack of meaning, yet which in this context are more lucid than ever. They seem to say: All of creation is an indivisible mixture of semiotic impulses rotting like neglected machines until all that’s left is the soul.

    These sonic films live somewhere at the center of our listening. One can almost sense them running down the spine in search of entry, for they are a nervous system unto themselves, activating limbs and sensations of which the earth is only a single organ.