William Basinski “The Disintegration Loops” | Temporary Residence Limited
The Disintegration Loops
Temporary Residence Limited
9xLP + 5xCD + DVD + Book
Growing up and being surrounded by musicians, painters and other creative types, I’d always hear one connecting concept towards the whole equation of these brave intellectual beings: Process is everything. In an age of packaging, the separation of process from results can leave a gap in the purpose and intentions of these creators that leaves the output devoid of its fullest perception. All things are truly relative and when I encounter a piece of music where process overwhelms my senses just as much as the creation I am hearing, I feel more closer to the recording, more connected to the gears that set what I am hearing in motion. An example of this has never more potent and fully realized in my life then this year then when William Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops entered my world for the first time.
As a large set of experimental tape loop music that runs well over five hours, the four pieces that comprise The Disintegration Loops were originally released into the public on CD format under Basinski’s own imprint 2062 Records in 2003 and 2004. The process surrounding the final results is stunning and somewhat of an enigma in the context of bold diversions of how an album should be constructed. Beginning in the year of 1983, William Basinski created hours and hours of tape loop music that would eventually be put on the shelf for a possible future release. Allowing these analog tape reels to sit in plastic containers for almost twenty years proved damaging to these magnetic inscriptions of a time when Basinski had just moved to New York with colleague James Elaine. Video projects, art installations, music composing, this was a place where Basinski would further expand on the ambient tape work he had begun prior to moving there from Texas.
As an outsider in the music institute he had just come from in Texas, these tape loops would play for hours if not days in the small loft space Tibet and Baskinski shared in Brooklyn. Fast forward to July 2001 and Basinski unearths these recordings from this fruitful beginning of his New York life and prepares to transfer these tapes into the digital realm to finally put together a release. The following experiences shared among those who were with Basinski in these transfer process were given a treat that is far removed from the normal application and tradition of how music is celebrated.
As Basinski began converting these reels over to CD-R’s, he realized a very subtle and powerful occurrence happening: the tapes were slowly disintegrating before his eyes and those who he had called over to his loft in that month of July 2001. As each tape loops with a majestic glow of a time much more honest and filled with compassion than we may encounter in the city life, an expansion into sound and of a mystic nature takes place as you hear the dying results of a moment in time that could have been lost forever. Upon initially hearing these tape loops, my world became enlarged, the scope and intentions of my purpose here became clearer and process was of the most importance. Basinski is a composer who uses a bag of tools that most push to the side or don’t even acknowledge as tools and he does it with the weight of a new born birth or the last dying moments of a loved one.
What has become known as the The Disintegration Loops originally came to life as a pastoral backdrop and representation of an expansive America that Basinski had come to know through his upbringing and travels. The integrity and emotion behind these recordings would shortly become known as modern masterpieces upon their releases in 2003 and 2004 and have come full circle in this year with the label Temporary Residence Limited and the 9xLP + 5xCD + DVD + Book they have released on the special day of September 11th. What separates these recordings from anything else is not only the eerie and beautiful results of the music but of course the process that shaped itself into existence almost 20 years after the recordings had taken form.
As each of the four pieces from the The Disintegration Loops fades into nothingness and splices of unusable tape are left behind, the window into how this music dies and is collected into apparition form is stunning. Every recording begins fully intact, unabridged and towers over with a wavering beauty. As the closing intervals of each piece find themselves, you hear the loss of many sounds that created the whole, leaving traces of what was. It’s like recollecting a memory that was once very potent in your mind but is no longer there to grab like the experiences that came before a bad relationship breaking or the memories invested within the departure of an old best friend.
The Disintegration Loops defines its most integral purpose to America only two months after the music was transferred into the digital realm. September 11, 2001 was a tragic day for many people here in the States and served as a bleak wake up call to our society. Ego, old money, wars and so many others factors bleed into the American consciousness and had left the world in a restless state of uncertainty. After 9/11, the people in the States woke up and compassion was a thing of demand in everyone from the youth and all the way up. It was a demand that came from a higher source, a source people can claim a name in whatever form they’d like.
Only one square mile away from the Twin Towers, Basinski’s residence faced these towering tools of world trade standard setting and it was on the day of September 11, 2001 that Basinski and his colleagues and friends watched the impossible occur. The beginning of the end was flashing before their eyes and Basinski played The Disintegration Loops as a musical backdrop to this day. Thinking about these men and women hearing these recordings while watching such a tragic event take place makes the hairs on my neck stand up and leaves a special mark on the recordings that encounters my own feelings of when 9/11 occurred. The Disintegration Loops also boldly serves as a testament to the human condition that was displayed after 9/11. Having been created well before this event took place, the synchronizing nature of the music and what occurred is incredible. Regardless of fate or coincidence having real control here, the results are nothing short of powerful.
The Disintegration Loops is one of the most spiritual collections of modern music I have ever heard and it is with the greatest pleasure for us that the good people at Temporary Residence Limited have gone the extra mile to present these recordings in the analog vinyl format for the first time ever. Included in this special vinyl box is two bonus recordings performed by expanded ensembles in recent years, one of which was a ten year anniversary piece done at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. With an extensive 100+ page booklet with words from Basinski and colleagues and a collection of photos from Basinski’s residence looking out towards the Twin Towers burning and collapsing, the complete nature of this recording takes on its fullest size. This is a box set we highly recommend to anyone who was a part of the emotional toll that was 9/11. On the second page of the liner notes, small white letters grace the following message behind an all black backdrop: For all of us. After playing these recordings to many different people over the last few weeks and experiencing the power it pulls into their life, I have come to the conclusion that this statement could not be more true.
Order this expansive set here: http://shop.temporaryresidence.com/trr194