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William Basinski

William Basinski (Houston, 1958), a New York-based classically-trained clarinetist and saxophonist, specializes in compositions for loopsand drones. Hebegan experimenting with compositions for piano and tape that created a melancholy ambience via looped and overdubbed melodies withVariations - AMovement in Chrome Primitive (1980), released on Variations - A Movement in Chrome Primitive (Durtro, 2002 - Die Stadt, 2004), and ARed Score in Tile(1979), released on A Red Score in Tile (3 Poplars, 2003).

Shortwave Music (1982), some of which appear on Shortwave Music (Noton, 1998), ...read more

William Basinski (Houston, 1958), a New York-based classically-trained clarinetist and saxophonist, specializes in compositions for loopsand drones. Hebegan experimenting with compositions for piano and tape that created a melancholy ambience via looped and overdubbed melodies withVariations - AMovement in Chrome Primitive (1980), released on Variations - A Movement in Chrome Primitive (Durtro, 2002 - Die Stadt, 2004), and ARed Score in Tile(1979), released on A Red Score in Tile (3 Poplars, 2003).

Shortwave Music (1982), some of which appear on Shortwave Music (Noton, 1998), processed and assembled snippets of radio broadcaststo produceatmospheres at the border between musique concrete and ambient music. The River (1983), collected on the double-disc The River (Noton,december2002), was the most mature expression of “shortwave music”.

Melancholia (Durtro, 2003 - 2062, 2005) collects more loop-based vignettes from the 1980s, closer in feeling and scope to Erik Satie andBrian Eno.

During the 1980s, Basinski often played saxophone during multimedia performances, and was a member of the Gretchen LangheldEnsemble, which laterevolved into House Afire. In 1989 he opened his own loft for the creative arts, nicknamed “Arcadia”. Throughout the 1990s he refined hissong-cycleHymns of Oblivion. In 1997, Basinski launched his performance-art act Beautifying America. He also formed the electronic ensemble Lifeon Mars. Basinskihas also created videos and films, notably the “ambient film” Fountain (2000).

Watermusic (2062, 2001) was the archetype of his subsequent shimmering, lulling, gentle ambient music for electronic keyboards, latercontinued onWatermusic II (Durtro, 2003). Instead of “disintegration loops”, water music is softly and slowly tonal music for the Voyestra synthesizer.

The four volumes of The Disintegration Loops (Musex, 2002-2003) are just that: loops of tapes that disintegrated during the recordingprocess. Basinskiadds a melodic commentary at the synthesizer and turns them into symphonies that evolve in a predictable but highly emotional manner.The effect ismesmerizing and opens new avenues to minimalism. This is the crowning achievement of the techniques first experimented with Variations.

His collaboration William Basinski + Richard Chartier (Spekk, 2004) is one of his most subtle works. The music defies Physics, evolvingwhile it hardlychanges at all: subconscious listening at its most ethereal. The first part grows slowly over the course of 21 minutes but remainsfundamentallyshapeless: a shadow without a body. The microscopic events that create the illusion of life remain embedded in the quantum lattice, belowthe threshold ofhuman experience. It feels a bit like listening to the sea inside a shell. Whatever it is, it is rarefied and unbound, an echo of a large andconcrete mass ofvibrations. The second part (36 minutes) is unusually eerie and sensible. Basinski rarely leaves this much substance in his compositions.This one feels likethe light of a shimmering rotating object, emanating in all directions, broadcasting to the universe its constant motion. The effect on theears and themind is similar to cosmic music. As the radiation deteriorates, its wavering notes feel like star dust drifting into gravity-less empty space.Each speck emitsa slight tremor. Their cumulative effect is one of peaceful resignation to meaninglessness.

Still zigzagging between reissues of his old “tape & loop” constructions and his new ambient soul, Basinski achieved the celestial sound ofSilent Night(2062, 2004), a composition for synthesizer that has little in common with Basinski’s old aesthetics and more in common with Harold Budd.

Basinski’s romantic soul surfaced again with the 50-minute ambient sonata for piano and distortion The Garden of Brokenness (2006). Themusic iscreated by the interference between the two threads (the looped piano melody and the stream of noise). The result is perhaps his mostserene andoptimistic work. If previous works focused on music that was “decaying”, this one seems to focus on music that is being born. « hide

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LPs
Cascade
2015

3.4
12 Votes
Nocturnes
06/25/2013

3.8
16 Votes
Vivian & Ondine
2009

3.9
19 Votes
92982
2009

3.5
21 Votes
El Camino Real
2007

3.9
8 Votes
Variations For Piano And Tape
2006

3.3
5 Votes
The Garden Of Brokenness
2005

3.7
5 Votes
Silent Night
2004

3.6
5 Votes
Variations: A Movement in Chrome Primitive
2004

2.5
5 Votes
Watermusic II
2004

3.4
8 Votes
Melancholia
2003

3.9
46 Votes
A Red Score in Tile
2003

3.9
5 Votes
The Disintegration Loops IV
2003

4.2
55 Votes
The Disintegration Loops III
2003

4.2
54 Votes
The Disintegration Loops II
2003

4.1
80 Votes
The River
2002

3.1
7 Votes
The Disintegration Loops I
2002

4.1
115 Votes
Watermusic
2000

3.3
9 Votes
Shortwavemusic
1998

3.9
10 Votes
Compilations
The Disintegration Loops
09/04/2012

4.7
34 Votes

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