Wednesday, June 12, 2013

a favorite

This is my favorite piece of music, ever.

I've posted about this piece a time or two on my site, but it never hurts to do it again. I am constantly rediscovering how important this work is to my life. I can't count the number of poems it has pulled outta me...

via Pitchfork(November 2012, box set is released):

The Disintegration Loops arrived with a story that was beautiful and heartbreaking in its own right. It's been repeated so many times that Basinski himself has grown weary of telling it: in the 1980s, he constructed a series of tape loops consisting of processed snatches of music captured from an easy listening station. When going through his archives in 2001, he decided to digitize the decades-old loops to preserve them. He started a loop on his digital recorder and left it running, and when he returned a short while later, he noticed that the tape was gradually crumbling as it played. The fine coating of magnetized metal was slivering off, and the music was decaying slightly with each pass through the spindle. Astonished, Basinski repeated the process with other loops and obtained similar results.

Shortly after Basinski digitized his loops came the September 11 attacks. From the roof of his space in Brooklyn, he put a video camera on a tripod and captured the final hour of daylight on that day, pointing the camera at a smoldering lower Manhattan. On September 12, he cued the first of his newly created sound pieces and listened to it while watching the footage. The impossibly melancholy music, the gradual fade, and the images of ruin: the project suddenly had a sense of purpose.


There's an irony to the four volumes of The Disintegration Loops appearing here on vinyl for the first time, since the defiantly analog origin of the music is central to its appeal. Even 10 years later, the internet is generally a poor space for contemplating the end; there are few digital metaphors for the process of dying. With Basinski's pieces, the metaphor couldn't be more simple. This music reminds us of how everything eventually falls apart and returns to dust. We're listening to music as it disappears in front of us. Hearing the music on vinyl, with its inherent imperfections, and imagining the records changing over time, lends another layer of poignancy.

Given the central idea behind the project, the length of the individual tracks is important. The first, "Dlp 1.1", is just over an hour long, and its source only lasts a few seconds. To listen to the entire piece is to hear that segment many hundreds of times, and the progression from "music" to silence happens incrementally with each play. But the loops don't fade linearly. It often takes a few minutes for the obvious cracks to appear, and then the tumble toward the void speeds up at the end, presumably because the cumulative runs against the tape head had loosened even the bits of tape that were still hanging on. The process is so gradual it focuses attention in unique way; I find myself examining each new cycle to discover what is left and what has vanished.

The rest of the article is (click)here

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