William Basinski
The Disintegration Loops IV


5.0
classic

Review

by MikeKeiper USER (3 Reviews)
May 31st, 2016 | 59 replies


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The perfect ending to a perfect journey.

I'll admit it- the first time I listened to the Disintegration Loops, I was lost after nearly five minutes. 'Is this really it?' I said to myself, 'It's the same ten seconds just replayed over and over again?' I feel as though I was missing two key points during my first listen- one, I had just gotten into listening to ambient music at the time I found this collection, so I hadn't properly listened to the music for very long, and quite frankly, didn't even understand it. And the second point- context. After doing a bit more research and learning this album's relevance to the September 11th attacks- it gave me a whole new perspective my second attempt at listening. And once I learned of the recording technique Basinski used to make these long, ambient drones- I was even more intrigued. And it really helped- my second listening got me through all four albums in one sitting. The only words I can use to describe it are commonplace in the world of its praise- masterful, thought-provoking, an interesting look at one of America's most tragic moments. The third point was easily the most powerful as I listened to the first three parts- however, once I arrived at the final installment of the series, things took a turn in the direction of self reflection. Not to say that I didn't get those moments in the first three parts- it's just that the message of self reflection seemed to resonate more once the fourth and final set of tracks came through my speakers.

Before I describe my thoughts on this album, I should offer my thoughts on Disintegration Loops I-III:

I: "dlp 1.1" is such an incredible track, that it completely overshadows the second excerpt "dlp 2.1," both in length (an hour long to a mere ten minutes) and in scope-the first track just has so much more room to breathe and really explore its decaying sound. (4.75/5)

II: "dlp 2.2" continues the small excerpt from the first part, and gives it some more time to properly decay in a satisfying manner. Again, however, it is overshadowed by the next track "dlp 3" which has the catchiest decaying melody of the two volumes thus far. (4.5/5)

III: This is probably my least favorite of the four parts, but not in a bad way. It's not that the songs are bad-they're great. They just aren't as strong melodically as the first three loops, and feel a little lackluster. They still capture the mood and tone of the collection, so they aren't a bore, but just disappointing in relation to the set as a whole. (4/5)

Which brings me to Disintegration Loops IV. Of all of the four volumes in this collection, this one is by far the strongest melodically- and for good reason. "dlp 6" is probably the catchiest of all the loops, and its progression, while simple and short, is continuously, but subtly tinkered with throughout its forty minute run time. What I find interesting about this track is that while, like the rest of the songs, it is nothing more than a short loop droning on for well over a half hour sometimes, it has many layers, and with the decaying, almost apocalyptic, it can highlight an aspect of the loop for how ever long the song allows. Mental images are often associated with this song, which include fantastic, dreamlike realities of watching a city burn all alone. It's a strange thing to picture, but images like these are what make the Disintegration Loops so powerful as a whole.

To me, this collection of droning, eerie loops is an allegory for how life, in a way is meaningless. Call me nihilistic, but these songs are perfect in displaying how life is nothing more but the same thing, over and over again, and no matter what we do, we're stuck in a loop, to repeat the same steps as every other person who is or has been on this earth, which is live a mundane existence, and then eventually, taper off into death, because, we've accepted our fate. But, just because life may be meaningless, doesn't mean that there isn't an odd beauty to it all. I think "dlp 6" captures the points I've made perfectly, as it's simple but beautiful melody loops endlessly until, very slowly, it dies off into cuts and random pop ups of noise.

So while with the description of what I think the Loops represent might seem bleak, it actually fills me with a bit of optimism. The times in the sixth loop where other parts of its sound get more focus, or appear, represent those small blips of differentiation in life. It proves that even though life may be repetitive, there are occasionally breaks in its mundane nature, and that we should cherish those moments when they happen. And all of that from a forty minute repeat of a 10 second loop.

The fourth part ends on a strange note, with additional add-ons to the first loop, aptly titled "dlp 1.2" and "dlp 1.3" respectively. They give the first loop a whopping length of over 80 minutes, and I think its addition on the last part also plays into the philosophy surrounding the series. Death comes easier with acceptance, and sometimes it takes longer to find that acceptance in some, but eventually, they'll make peace with it. It's the only thing I'm thinking of when I hear the final minutes of the last track on this album.

Simply put, Disintegration Loops all together is an amazing collection, and a must for a one sitting listen if you can handle it. If you aren't too big on ambient or drone music, this part I believe can be listened to on its own, and the message can still be seen clearly. This is one of the only albums I've listened to that puts a rather uncomfortable truth in front of its listener, doesn't hold back, and succeeds with flying colors. All I can say is, I'm glad I gave it another go.


user ratings (122)
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
ScuroFantasma
Emeritus
May 31st 2016


11961 Comments


Nice review man.

"I'll admit it- the first time I listened to the Disintegration Loops, I was lost after nearly five minutes. 'Is this really it?' I said to myself, 'It's the same ten seconds just replayed over and over again?"

I think this is where I'm stuck always, not because I don't understand ambient, I think, but because i almost never enjoy it. But the review was cool, I enjoyed reading your interpretation and it was interesting to see how your mind changed so much after a second listen. Pos'd hard.

oltnabrick
May 31st 2016


40621 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Lot's of missing commas, couple run ons and a couple sentences that read awkwardly. Good luck! It's a shame people call this good writing. It will be better for you to hunt for the mistakes. This way you will grow as a writer instead of people POSing and saying "good review" because, it agrees with their opinion. Sorry excuse for a music review site. No room for anyone's opinions unless it matches the bandwagoners. Have fun being stuck on this site not growing as a writer.

ScuroFantasma
Emeritus
May 31st 2016


11961 Comments


lol, I said it was a good review because despite some grammatical issues and problematic phrases he clearly put effort and thought into it. It's written pretty clearly, and his descriptions of the music are solid. Yeah it's a little shabby but it's the dudes third review, no need to put him down or unnecessarily discourage a new reviewer. "Agrees with their opinion" I mean dude I haven't heard this or anything by this artist before; zero knowledge before this review, so I have no opinion on it. Your comment is really negative and unhelpful anyway, so I'm not sure what your goal is here by calling out a lack of feedback when yours is doing more damage than good.

Pon
Emeritus
May 31st 2016


5979 Comments


played like a fiddle

iloveyouall
May 31st 2016


6312 Comments


taking oltna seriously in 2016

ScuroFantasma
Emeritus
May 31st 2016


11961 Comments


I've been duped haven't I?


...shit

iloveyouall
May 31st 2016


6312 Comments


smh famiglia

Pon
Emeritus
May 31st 2016


5979 Comments


sputnik has gone downhill so drastically over the past 12 ish months, it's insane

literally zero interesting conversation about this album go on here. nimb's post is great but I'm sure we won't be discussing its intellectual points any time soon.

Relinquished
May 31st 2016


48692 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

or it can go here...

Relinquished
May 31st 2016


48692 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

realistically discussions will still stay in the other loop threads but to be mr. official directing officer of sputnik threads is dumb too

Keyblade
May 31st 2016


30678 Comments


i thought jac was talking about the site in general. there couldnt have been any discussion about this alb today (apart from the comp thread) cuz there wasnt a review

torts
May 31st 2016


4298 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

literally shut up I hate music

Keyblade
May 31st 2016


30678 Comments


naw he's never heard em

torts
May 31st 2016


4298 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

10 second loopa

Relinquished
May 31st 2016


48692 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it's alright torts you'll grow out of whatever is haunting your life from enjoying things

Relinquished
May 31st 2016


48692 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

you're only like what, 16?

torts
May 31st 2016


4298 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

I am 16 yes



I'm sorry I listen to all sorts of extreme music, including harsh noise at points, but fucking the same loops over and over again is the worst concept of all time and if you disagree I cANNOT fuck with you

parksungjoon
May 31st 2016


47231 Comments


relinq dont fall for his shit bro

Relinquished
May 31st 2016


48692 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

what's there to fall into with his shallow immature waters

Keyblade
May 31st 2016


30678 Comments


I listen to all sorts of extreme music (including harsh noise at points)



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