The number of conceptual implications stemming from the apparently innocuous title is startling. Even more impossible to grasp for the standard thinker is its core meaning. How can one be “on time out of time”?
In truth, this could be a subject to debate for talking crickets sweeping the dust of vibrational deficit under the carpet of metaphorical inscrutability. Luckily, William Basinski does not belong in that category. Born as a clarinetist – thus entirely conscious of the internal mechanics of the man/instrument symbiosis – Basinski has been able to live the “mere player-to-enlightened transmitter” transition from the very within. That’s why his output mirrors a whole life spent scavenging the inmost archives to retrieve answers that were as dolorous as radiant.
Let’s go further, and hypothesize a psychological progression. When Disintegration Loops came out, Basinski – like any genuinely responsive soul on this planet – was facing something which, in that moment, appeared as an end. The solemn dejectedness of those loops established a connection between the concrete failure of human reason and the awareness of acoustic decay as a means of transportation towards a somewhat reassuring infinitude. Which brings us back to this album, and to our initial cogitations.
That of black holes and timelessness is a dangerous domain. In recent years, it has become a comfortable playground for people who can’t handle the fundamentals of personal discipline, not to mention the idea of shutting their mouth. Think of the role of temporal subdivisions as the polyrhythmic structure of our fleeting aliveness inside an unceasing, overwhelmingly complex pulse; now, try to explain this to an “intelligence” unable to look beyond binary or ternary and keep collateral fluxes in check, ultimately resorting to the “obscurity of nothingness” to camouflage the incompetence. Not a surprise, then, to see this record announced in several places with an emphasis on the “music of the black holes” label, an overly univocal definition that might distract listeners from equally essential messages delivered by the composer. In spite of the indisputable importance of that single component, falling into commonplace is easy when it comes to verbalizing the products of wavering particles (unless one trusts the approval-seeking ego of shallow aeonic reporters).
Basinski did more than letting the voice of black holes do the work. Besides the galactic field recordings whose descent you can easily learn, he utilized additional sources and his assembling mastery to depict a shift from doubtful suspension to near-certainty. The latter is finely symbolized by the quasi-tonal affirmation typifying the final section of the title track, whose overall gravity is impressive (the vinyl edition also features a different version of the piece). However, in the shorter episode “4(E+D)4(ER=EPR)” the slow alternance of two haunting chords surrounded by a combination of subsonic palpitations, shortwaves and synthesis (plus, presumably, other materials) produces a truly moving sample of cosmic lyricism, expressing a profound harmoniousness that requires no explanation. The sounds – as always – are telling us the strict minimum necessary to be acquired.
The score of what is endless has as many tempos as the innumerable events that happen, integrated in an all-encompassing, self-regulated unity that nobody can categorize or narrate about. Embedding all the ramifications of that awesome rhythmic superimposition in an insightful sentience is accomplishable, although a privilege destined to a tiny squad of beings.