William Basinski: tape loops, composition

If you missed the act, there is a chance of locating snippets of Cascade’s performance on the web. This, of course, will never replace the authentic experience but gives an idea of the visuals accompanying the music featured in this new work by William Basinski. Even taking the eyes out of the equation, there’s always a “third eye” element in the spirit-regenerating creations of the world’s finest loop disintegrator. This is incontrovertibly confirmed by the content of this album, namely the title track and an extract from a live version of The Deluge (the latter coming next spring on an LP by Temporary Residence), obtainable via a download code enclosed with the CD.

As the titles imply, the compositions are inherently connected. They both originate from a piano cadence revolving around itself, without deviations from its mesmerizing trajectory. A case could be made for the source material’s essence to be vaguely related to names such as Debussy, Palestine, Melnyk, Roedelius; the loop might theoretically soundtrack a poignant farewell scene. But there is no added sugar in the emotional reiteration as the muffled reverberations result in the actual acoustic waterfall upon which the entire daydream is built. Instead, we get different finales: in “Cascade”, the last five minutes present a melting of motions into a quiet-sounding stasis, a decisive affirmation of inner harmony. Whereas “The Deluge” – the more “pregnant” piece of the pair, characterized as it is by a resplendent choral flavor – ends with the emergence of a cyclical symphonic fragment (complete with vinyl noises) altering the tonal perspective. A sort of hypothesis for the future development of alternative options.

By now the difference between an artist like Basinski and the innumerable impersonators should not be overly difficult to notice. He makes the most of an original concept in ways that shun cliches completely. His ability of establishing a direct link and a heartfelt affinity with the sensitive segments of an audience is paradigmatic. A state of genuine transcendence is reached by merely listening to the same modulation, over and over. As the sounds reclaim past experiences, stirring or mournful – a composer’s trademark, in relation to Basinski’s output – we feel accepted and even cuddled by the sonic organism, rather than being forced to intuit its intensity from afar. These are primary principles to respect, if going beyond a life’s external surface is still a necessity for someone.

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