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Scatter My Ashes

by Octet Ensemble and William Susman

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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Comes in a 6-panel gatefold digipack card case including bios of the musicians, song lyrics, liner notes with artwork by Ben Swift and photography by Ken Goodman.

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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Signed cover and disc of Scatter My Ashes. Comes in a 6-panel gatefold digipack card case including bios of the musicians, song lyrics, liner notes with artwork by Ben Swift and photography by Ken Goodman.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Scatter My Ashes via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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  • Book/Magazine + Digital Album

    72 page bound paperback collection of poetry by the composer's sister. The collection contains 60 + poems including all the poems set to song on the album "Scatter My Ashes."

    "...infinite beauty from within a crucible of finite pain..." - The Mindful Bard

    Includes unlimited streaming of Scatter My Ashes via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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  • Full Digital Discography

    Get all 6 William Susman releases available on Bandcamp and save 35%.

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality downloads of Music for Moving Pictures, Quiet Rhythms Live at Spectrum NYC, Scatter My Ashes, Quiet Rhythms Book I, Collision Point, and A Quiet Madness. , and , .

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Scatter my ashes before I die. Let me blow and fade in the wind over water into nothing. Watch me dissolve in air. Scatter my old bones. I am keeping the young ones fresh, strong the blood circles and weaves me into a whole piece with long slender red thread buried under my skin.
In the distance in the dark I talk hard to an old tree. Winding round and round, I am a flame curling upwards and the tree welcomes me. I don’t have to have a reason to be here. There is time enough to understand. I don’t have to explain. My name is the sound of the wind blowing and my spirit is as old. Until the sky grows light, I will stay here wound tightly to the tree and listen to the way the dark feels. The fire in my throat burns more quietly now. I can hear the empty sound of dawn.
The forest breathes in and out as I sleep and curl like a cat snuggled into a bigger sleeping body. Even in the dark I wake and see light from above, the moon burning into black earth; stars, glittering chips of glass scatter in a strange design. I keep my eyes open until morning.
Take off the old wood and burn it. I am leaving this part of me here. And as I light the match to start this fire, I feel the flames begin to jump out of me. I am burning myself up from the inside, and this fire burns clean, leaves no ashes, only clear space inside. Now the wind picks up. The flames grow higher. There is no pain.
Heart in the darkness holding on to the light inside. Inside there is a spark, a light that burns and never goes out, never grows dim but burns hard and bright in the dark void of unending night, the vast empty blackness of my self where I can only hear the echo of my cavernous soul and the simple cadence of my healthy heart hurting and healing over and over pumping the life into my veins pushing it through and around so that I am always filled with it so that I am always alive to the light even when I am lost, cold and wandering lonely in the dark.
Hot Time 03:41
Hot time this summer in the city in the artificial light of the street. At night people scurry and run together in packs. Too many rats in the cage. Running towards something in the distance, in the dark; something hidden from sight, something they cannot name. They come here to hunt and groan in hot dark rooms filled with sweating, hungry bodies, dancing with fever into the morning. And as the music blasts into flashing strobe-lights, the walls begin to swell and breathe. There are bodies on the street tonight, each with its own hidden secret. You can choose one to take home with you. You can go on alone. You can help yourself. Steal into the night. No one can find you. You become invisible in the dark, invisible to others who may want to hurt you; invisible even to yourself.
She approached me in the supermarket’s parking lot, a tired-looking woman with a worn-out face, asking if I had any change. And as I shook my head, I felt the dimes and nickels burrow deeper in my pocket, felt my back stiffen, my hands curl into fists. I couldn’t look her in the face and so I hurried on, shaking my head to lose the fear that one day she could be me, talking to strangers in parking lots, alone in the street, unknown and unseen, begging the night for change.
Tonight I stood watching the stars twinkling through the bare branches. The air is cold and I am alone here in this quiet faraway place. And I am at peace, in myself, still somewhat afraid. I stood watching the night sky, as if it would change, as if the tiny white lights would move or rearrange themselves the better to please my eye. But there was no change; the night was fixed, immutable and cold. I am a shifting star, fallen down from the vast empty blackness to burn on the earth. I look up to see where I came from. And the lights return my gaze. There is no message, no sound just the silent reflection of my own face shining in the night to remind me that I have always been here.


"Scatter My Ashes exists at a crossroads between multiple styles, but emerges with something rich, textural, ambient and riveting”
-Bandcamp (New and Notable)

Scatter My Ashes has been described by Second Inversion, "without a single moment wasted, the album stands as a timeless combination of contemporary classical music, minimalism, and jazz into a profound and dynamic multidisciplinary work."

Fanfare proclaims Scatter My Ashes, "a constant delight…impeccably crafted and played by all concerned with pinpoint accuracy" and, textura describes it as "…resplendent and melodious, and easy to embrace when its fresh blend of neo-classical, jazz, and popular song-based forms sparkles so effervescently…"

And, All Music hails Scatter My Ashes as, "the next developments in the sphere (of) minimalism...state-of-the-art examples of this style world."

OCTET's inaugural album, was recorded over a few years with renowned engineer and Grammy Award winner John Kilgore. The album features the music of William Susman and includes two song cycles, Scatter My Ashes and Moving in to an Empty Space (performed by vocalist Mellissa Hughes), as well as Susman’s Piano Concerto (Elaine Kwon, piano) and the ensemble work Camille.

OCTET takes the instrumentation of the American big band and scales it down to a brass section of saxophone, trumpet, and trombone and a rhythm section of piano, electric piano, double bass and drums plus vocals.

OCTET was founded in 2011 and subsequently premiered Susman's Piano Concerto at Zankel Hall in NYC that year.

Excerpted from Second Inversion feature by Maggie Molloy:

I have always considered poetry to be the distant cousin of music. After all, both combine elements of rhythm, sound, lyricism, and storytelling. However, after listening through the OCTET Ensemble’s performance of “Scatter My Ashes,” I thought perhaps these two artistic mediums may be even closer than cousins; perhaps they could even be brother and sister.

“Scatter My Ashes” is a series of five poems written by Sue Susman about life, death, and darkness. Her brother, composer and keyboardist William Susman, then transformed the poems into a five-movement composition for OCTET, his New York-based contemporary music ensemble.

“Scatter My Ashes” is the title track on OCTET’s debut album, where it is brilliantly framed by three other works which combine a neoclassical sound with jazz and pop elements. Hughes’ dazzling vocals soar above each piece, transitioning flawlessly from singing lyrical poetry to percussive wordless vocals depending on the composition.

The title track lays Hughes’ crystal clear voice over a relatively sparse, brass-dominated musical texture. The result is a harmonious mixture of minimalism and jazz, filled with swirling brass melodies and tender, lyrical vocals. Hughes’ voice amplifies the sorrow, hope, and drama of the poetry, making each word glow with very minimal vibrato.

Though the entire album runs just under 45 minutes, each note is perfectly crafted and expertly executed. The precision and accuracy of each instrument’s part is a true testament to the musicianship of OCTET’s members.

Originally released June 10, 2014 and reaching No. 8 on Billboard's Traditional Classical Albums Chart


released August 5, 2022


Music by William Susman
Poems by Sue Susman

Members of OCTET

Vocals: Mellissa Hughes
Saxophone: Demetrius Spaneas
Trumpet: Mike Gurfield
Trombone: Alan Ferber
Drums: Greg Zuber
Piano: Elaine Kwon
Electric Piano: William Susman
Double Bass: Eleonore Oppenheim


Produced by William Susman

Sound engineer and mixing: John Kilgore
Recorded and mixed at Kilgore Sound, New York City, September 2011 to January 2014

Mastering engineer: Alan Silverman
Mastered at Arf! Mastering, New York City

Additional sound engineer: Josiah Gluck
Additional mixing by Stephen Hart, assisted by Ana Sophia Dunham at The Site, San Rafael, California

Cover design by Daniel Sofer / Hermosawave

Photography by Ken Goodman
Cover image by Ben Swift


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William Susman San Francisco, California

William Susman is a composer and pianist.

His music has earned praise from Gramophone as “texturally shimmering and harmonically ravishing,” from Fanfare, "crystalline . . . and gloriously lyrical,” and The New York Times, “vivid, turbulent, and rich-textured.” Textura describes Susman as “not averse to letting his affection for Afro-Cuban, jazz, and other forms seep into his creative output.” ... more

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