By Preston Valles
William Basinski may be unfamiliar to most, but to those that know him, his work leaves an astounding impact. Basinski is an ambient music composer with his work in music dating back to 1978. He is most well known for his work with tape loops which feature looped instrumentation and and shortwave radio noise. Most notably, Basinski is listed on the early lineup for this coming Treefort Music Festival in 2022.
Basinski has a plethora of stand out albums such as Melancholia (2003), Lamentations (2020), and Selva Oscura (2018). However, there is one project that Basinski released titled The Disintegration Loops (2002) which on the surface level just seems like a collection of his tape loops. Knowing the story behind this work completely changes the listening experience.
Without any further inspection, The Disintegration Loops are simply just a collection of Basinski’s tape loops. But understanding the importance of this work means understanding the story behind it. Basinski was in the process of converting many of his tape loops to a digital format and found that upon playing them over and over, the tapes would literally begin to disintegrate. The sounds and orchestration would change throughout this process of degradation. If played enough, these tapes would simply be unusable. It was vital to save these tapes digitally as they were the accumulation of Basinski’s work for the past 30 years.
Basinski began this conversion process and finished it in his New York apartment the morning of September 11th, 2001. His work, The Disintegration Loops, was just about finalized when the attack on the World Trade Center began. He witnessed all of the events from his loft, filming the aftermath while his speakers blared the final product of his work. The covers he used for the releases of The Disintegration Loops are captures from the recordings he took of the city during the evening.
For many, Basinski is simply just another listing on the greater lineup for Treefort. But to those who know the meaning behind his work, it is something that sticks with you for life.