The Beautiful Process of Destruction

Like everything on this planet that has an organic composition things tend to break down. Basinski’s old tapes he had left in his home 20 years ago were just a reminder of how things fall apart (although not organic). His task to transfer the tapes towards a digital format was successful, but he eventually noticed the tapes were literally being disintegrated (in a matter of speaking). Hence, the collection of The Disintegration Loops I-IV was made. They still remain his most established work, not only in his discography, but in the ambient field as a whole. The concept of using natural sounds that over-time had been broken down like the human body, a run-down building, pretty much anything that can be brought down to its basic, simplest form was ingenious. The material on this album and Basinski’s tapes has a common thread with the rest of existence – time will eventually catch up to us.

William’s tapes were old forms of his previously recorded music in the 1980’s, inherently unrecognizable in their digital form now they do not exist in the present time due to tapes plainly falling apart while being transferred. As the tapes withered away they leave the message of 20 years. 20 years of dust, decay, darkness, and possibilities. What is truly astonishing about The Disintegration Loops II is the fact we are hearing the music unfold right before us. With The Disintegration Loops I-IV natural events take hold of what was. A few demo tapes turn into obscure and historic works of music for Basinski, even if they weren’t entirely crafted by his hand they seem amazing nonetheless.

You would think continuing the tradition of The Disintegration Loops I would follow, but not precisely as one would expect. Part II isn’t as drawn out as its predecessor. It’s already reached the comfort zone due to the outline of the previous Loops on I, but it is more sinister and elaborate then what we would expect. Sure, The Disintegration Loops I may have the callings of the dead life of old music, but it isn’t heard or quite dense as The Disintegration Loops II. The swirling repetition (hence ‘Loops’) isn’t as distracting throughout this 5 hour journey (not The Disintegrations Loops II by itself, but I mean the entire series) as one would initially expect.

The Disintegration Loops II is an immediate step up from its fantastic predecessor. For one as I said this album isn’t as drawn out as its predecessor allowing nature to take its course from those long forgotten themes and musical essence it once held so dear. “D|P 2.2” is exactly what I’m talking about – cold, developing, slowly grabbing your attention every minute it runs through its 33 minutes of Loops. Every so often you’ll hear something more wanton, but it doesn’t make it bad because it just adds to the depth of the song itself. The menacing obscurity that develops in “D|P 2.2” is quite noticeable as the ‘Loops’ gradually are swallowed whole. Eventually in this time you’ll hear the cries of the long forgotten music that held in place on II, but the cutting of the electronic atmosphere never disappears, always ever-present and always in your ear. It steadily declines and the loops seem to break farther apart to allow “D|P 3” to enter, which by anyone’s standards may be one of the greatest ambient tracks of all-time. Completely surprising and lush with life; I said The Disintegration Loops II was darker than its predecessor, I wasn’t necessarily lying since half of really is, but “D|P 3” has one of the greatest, triumphant introductions to be heard by man. Instead of the cold looping we are accustomed to, nature + Basinski turns us with a complete 180. It is the clear opposite, the hisses, faint distresses that are evident in this whole series are here, but the cutting in the previous track isn’t dreary or muddled with blackness and instead brims with life and energy. Uplifting and serene “D|P 3” is a triumphant way to end the last 40 minutes of The Disintegration Loops II.

I have yet to listen to the entire Disintegration Loops I-IV series, but I’m sure it’ll keep me pondering for quite some time what exactly am I listening to? Is it the destruction of previous material or just the rebirth of a dying inert space that once held this together? I have what another 60 years to figure that out, if I’m lucky that is. Time will only tell.

Grade: A+
Download: V0 (VBR)


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