William Basinski – The Disintegration Loops

Upon re-discovering his own archives, William Basinski found some old analog tape-recordings of some ‘pastoral pieces’ of his own work, recorded in the early 80’s. If you can remember this analog reel-to-reel tapes (or cassettes), and imagine them to be used as a real physical loop (end glued to beginning), you can almost see how they started to deteriorate when played endlessly. (Remember the brown dust on your cassette-recorder playback heads?).

William immediately realised the symbolic potential and recorded this process of disintegration as a new musical project. Record the music that is slowly dying. That, in itself, already is quite symbolic, but the story got another dimension when these tapes, played at his New York appartment, accidentally became a soundtrack for the 2001 09-11 disaster. At that point, ‘Disintegration’ became quite a different dimension.

‘…We were in shock. We sat on the roof terrace in lawn chairs and watched the fires burning all day into night with the Disintegration Loops playing in the background. … In the next days and weeks, I watched as I and my friends disintegrated in our own personal loops of fear and terror…each one happening on it’s own terms, in it’s own language, at it’s own pace’

I am not sure yet if it’s the concept, the coincidence, or the music itself that makes The Disintegration Loops so very impressive.
But in the end, this doesn’t really matter. It’s a monument in itself.

The Disintegration Loops were hard to find originally. Rumour around this project has grown to near mythical proportions. Recently, all four cd’s (almost 5 hours of disintegrating loops!) are reissued.

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