Many consider machines to be brilliant. Such a thing has become a trending thing on twitter. Artists slowly surrender more and more of themselves to the artifice of the machine, hoping to remove humanity out of the equation. Such artists like Yasunao Tone, Florian Hecker, and much of Raster Noton have devoted their very careers to the sort of thing. Yet William Basinski who has in many ways taken that approach has a very different output.
His work is among some of the best deconstruction of music around. Consider Basinski to be the reverse Brian Eno. Where many artists try to add onto the sound Basinski is obsessed with the decay. By focusing on the decay, the sustained tones, the gradual erosion of sound, William shows how the very concept of mortality can be a work of art. Most of his pieces involve a harking back to his previous work to tape loops specifically. Over the course of each one of his pieces the listener is treated to the piece disappearing into almost nothingness.
‘Disintegration Loops’ remains his all-time best work. Created during a time of great stress (poor artist in New York City during the early 2000s) it remembers a time when things looked considerably rosier (the tapes he used were from decades before). As the pieces melted the World Trade Center Tower fell to the ground, disappearing in smoke. It is his best known and most immediately accessible work.
In ‘Nocturnes’ his latest work, Basinski still is curious with the concept of constant looping. Unlike his previous work there is a greater sense of distortion. The work winds its way into the most nostalgic, sad part of the brain. It is a beautiful, tragic piece. With the repetition and distortion there is almost a meditative, trippy effect unlike what he’s done before. Time slows down. Little makes sense. More than a few times the music appears to almost collect itself. Here Basinski employs a different technique than what he has used in the past. It is hard to tell whether or not the piece is dissolving or evolving.
William Basinski continues to evolve, ever gradually, towards the concept of sad machines. Maybe the machines are brilliant but with Basinski’s help he shows that machines have soul too.
Pruitt Igoe is a 4 track E.P on which both Alva Noto and Ben Frost have been invited by Kangding Ray to produce sonic variations on a contemporary architectural myth.
The EP’s title Pruitt Igoe is taken from a gigantic social housing project, completed in 1955 in the U.S. City of St Louis, Missouri, and often regarded as a symbol of the modernist architecture failure. Designed according to the principles of modernism, and by the same architect who would later build the World Trade Center, the project saw a disastrous and violent decline after only a few years, plagued with vandalism and massive criminality, leading to its complete destruction from 1972 onwards. Footage of its demolition are visibly featured in the 1983 movie “Koyaanisqatsi”, scored by Phillip Glass. Pruitt Igoe is more than a post-modern icon, it represents an ancestral movement of hope and disillusion, of perfectly planned models and evaporated dreams. It serves as a judicious metaphor for our era, where the feeling of imbalance and doubt has replaced the certainity of eternal progress and endless economical growth.
I was hoping that Diamond Version would put out a CD compilation of all 5 EPs they’ve released over the past year or so because they are insanely good. Turns out they did… It was limited to 100 copies and only available in Japan, and I had no idea about it until it had sold out (now on discogs for about £100). I hope it gets a wider release at some point because I really want it.
This video is a very cerebral experience. Unsettling and soothing at the same time. The fade outs in particular are so well done. It perfectly compliments the tribal techno of this Kangding Ray track. From Solens Arc, the composers fourth LP for the boundary pushing Raster Noton label. The album drops February 28th.
In a sleeping mood offers two albums in one. The first album (the bookends of the album) is quiet meditations. But the second has a darker, more beat-driven approach and makes up the ‘core’ of the album. Mixing these two together creates a disorienting experience, one where is it hard to decipher what is about to happen at any given moment. This unpredictability keeps the listener on edge.
The beginning is gentle, sweet, and almost a little sad. It is mostly acoustic, save for the lone guitar. Next up is the core of the album, a quiet, spacious electronic track which employs a bit of threat by the end. Around the third track, things feel less rock-based. Rather they appear to be more interested in Raster Noton’s approach of slowly building and tearing apart. The fifth track shares this aggression, unrelenting in its many noises and rhythms.
On the third track in a sleeping mood keeps everything silent for the first minute. Only after an entire minute of this does the track emerge from slumber. It slowly rises up, a piano, small electronic effect, and barely emits a pulse. It is better off that way, for offering a perfectly stable way to end what is an often dark, dramatic record.
Some of the people involved in this project have previous experience with post-rock. That makes sense given the slow builds, often jarring moments, and completely wordless tracks. The goal is not to offer a hummable melody but rather to show a logical progression. ‘Draft’ succeeds wonderfully in providing the unexpected.
Day by day
From nation to nation
Give us a fucking break
Thanks to rock ‘n’ roll
In Dolby Surround
Stop imperialist pop