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William Basinski

William Basinski

Biography

William Basinski started working away at his singular sound in 1978, but it was nearly a quarter of a century before the world began to notice. Trained as a jazz saxophonist, he turned toward tape composition in the late '70s, applying lessons learned from Steve Reich and Terry Riley to a series of ambient sketches pieced together using reel-to-reel technology. His 1983 composition Shortwave Music, a collage made from snippets of shortwave radio broadcasts, marked his debut release in 1998, when Carsten Nicolai picked it up for his Raster-Noton label. Basinski's breakout moment came with the first volume of The Disintegration Loops, an exhumation of reel-to-reel archives in which the crumbling magnetic tape became an integral part of the project's corroded, dissipating sound world. His recordings, prolific since then, don't vary much: you can expect plangent acoustic samples stretched to the point of disintegration; his "melodies" are but a blurry wash of mantra-like loops. But this is no aural wallpaper. His music has the melancholic feel of grave rubbings, with traces of the distant past lingering in the very ink and cloth.
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