American avante-garde composer William Basinski created The Disintegration Loops by a serendipitous and heart-wrenching series of events in his life and in the history of the world. This led to one of the great classics of the ambient and avante-garde genre – a four album opus called The Disintegration Loops.
Basinski recorded some loops from an easy-listening station in the 80’s. This sat in storage until one day he decided to digitise the samples in 2001. He started to record these on the digital recorder and found that with each play the tape was crumbling and distintegrating, as the magnetised metal on the tape strip wore away.
He finished his recording of the disintegration loops on the day of 9/11. And from the rooftop of his Brooklyn apartment he recorded the final hours of daylight as night fell over the smoky remnants of the World Trade Centre in Manhattan. The following day on September 12th he played back the recording and cued it to the video. The ambient soundscapes along with the video suddenly took on a life of its own and had a deeper purpose. The result was a haunting, melancholy and deeply affecting ambient work.
On the ten year anniversary of 9/11, MoMA held a live orchestra performance of Basinski’s work to mark the occasion. Also there was a re-release of the work as a 9 LP vinyl limited edition box set along with the original videos in 2014. Although nowadays the vinyl is something of a collectors edition.
2 thoughts on “Ambient Album Review #2: ‘The Disintegration Loops’ by William Basinski”
I like the idea of this more than the actual product. I think slowly evolving music can be hypnotic and beautiful, this one just doesn’t do enough for me….hmmm
Yes, me too I liked the concept here too more than the actual result. The artistry of the concept is really beautiful though. The idea of things and people dissapearing and crumbling that age-old theme is very interesting.