June 19, 2019
Today we’re listening to William Basinski's Disintegration Loops. Basinski is a multi-disciplinary artist and avant-garde composer who’s often mentioned alongside minimalists like Steve Reich and Brian Eno. I first had The Disintegration Loops on CD from the defunct record store Other Music. I regularly buy the box set (when I can find it) for friends on special occasions. Basinski found old tape from the ‘80s consisting of recorded loops in his personal archives. Upon digitizing them, he noticed the tape was decaying which created a powerful effect. He mixed them into compositions and published shortly after the 9/11 attacks. The cover art featured shots of smoke from his Brooklyn rooftop.
If you strip away the backstory and just listen, it is hauntingly beautiful ambient music. Some things sound like rusted kelp beds swaying in a current. Some sound like the echoes of a destroyed city. You can engage with it to work, or you can listen deeply and dip into the nuance, crackle, and texture as deep as you like. My favorite compositions on the project are “dlp 1.1,” which probably captures the most dramatic emotional effect, and “dlp 4",” which beautifully distorts and pulls apart (and sounds like a very analog Tim Hecker). It’s worth diving in and finding the pieces that resonate with you, but all are good for getting into the right mental state. As NPR put it: “vital music for the human condition.”
Have a great day.