As William Basinski began his attempts to convert old reel-to-reel tape recordings into a digital format, and as he reconstructed his opus, The Disintegration Loops I
, the then forty-something musician unconsciously began to document the death of music nearly half his age. Later, he even put it bluntly: "the music was dying." But even though he professes his uncontrollable love for these specific compositions in the liner notes of this album, he decided to sit down and allow his simple, elegiac melodies fade into nothingness. Much of the time you can hear the ferrite on the magnetic tape peeling off while Basinski's simple piano compositions echo and decrescendo into oblivion. Other times, they're interrupted by silence and the whir of machinery and the decaying tapes, and indeed the way that Loops
was made only enhances its value; however, what truly makes Loops
stand out as a heart-stopping, awe-inspiring stroke of genius is how evocative Basinski's fluid orchestration is.
Though alarmingly simple in terms of technicality, Basinski's outrageous ability to stir the soul is anything but. The irony of his simplicity and repetition sounding so relaxing and being able to place listeners into such a state of self-reflection it's ridiculous. The hour long "D|P 1.1" is a culmination of what he and his production ethic are able to produce: songs so poignant and pensive that it's incredible to think that these were, at one point, just a singular melody repeated for an absurd amount of time. Why? Because it is continually able to act as an emotional stimulus. As it fades into pure nothingness, the entire composition changes - slowly but surely. At first, the melody is relaxing with the ability to take you to that "special place" where all is peaceful and quiet. Later, it becomes somber as it documents the tape's death. The machinery that caused its demise becomes a more prominent feature of the composition, and slowly, all is lost.
The grandeur of this moment and all
of the moments on Basinski's Loops
is simply stunning. Simple, yes - but magnificent all the same due to Basinski's ability to transform the unbelievably minimal into the incredulously impacting. Though Basinski plods away on his instrument on Loops
, it seems mythical and unreal how moving and intriguing and emotionally-gratifying the composition is seeing as, it is indeed, a simple melody hammered on a piano. However, the hypnotic qualities of the album are so profound that only masses of hyperbolic and superfluous writing could come close to describing how majestic it is.
And probably not even that can do the trick