William Basinski’s ambient 9/11 elegy ‘The Disintegration Loops’ gets deluxe box set reissue
You know, when I first went into the studio that day -- it was a beautiful summer day in New York -- I was panicking because I didn't have any work and was about to be evicted. I picked up this little book off my shelf, The Way of Zen, and was sitting there in the sun reading it. And I just had to laugh, like, 'You've got this time, use it. Show up for work, get back in the studio. Get to work.' So I got in there and I just picked up the first next loop that was on the line to be transferred to digital. I had recently discovered this big case of all this old work back in the storage room in our loft in New York, which we called the Land of Time Forgot because everything just got put back there and piled up. I knew what could happen to tape and I didn't want my old work to be destroyed, so I was trying to digitize it.
"So I put this loop on, put it on the Revox and turned it on and it was just so grave and so beautiful and stately. I just thought, 'Oh, this is what I need right now. I want to make it. This is going to be my new piece -- fantastic.' So I went and turned on my Voyager synthesizer, tweaked it and came up with this random arpeggiating French horn sound countermelody, turned on the recorder, set the levels and started recording. I went to make a cup of coffee in the kitchen, came back and was listening, and I started noticing something was changing. All of a sudden, I looked and I could see dust in the tape path. I thought, 'Oh my God, it's happening. What's going to happen?' [I] looked at the CD recorder to make sure it was on -- it was -- so I just sat there, listening as this gorgeous melody decayed over a period of an hour in such a beautiful way. I was just stunned, like, "Oh my God!" Put the next one on, same thing. That one started doing the same thing in its own time in its own way and I started to realize, "Wow, something different is happening here. I don't need counter melodies. This is its own thing. I need to just pay attention and make sure I'm recording and let's see what happens here." - [NPR]
William Basinski finished The Disintegration Loops the morning of September 11, 2011. From his Brooklyn rooftop, Basinski shot the last hour of daylight which he later synched to one of the the loops, and used stills from it as cover art for the project's four discs.
Originally released in 2002, Temporary Residence has just reissued The Disintegration Loops as a box set containing nine vinyl LPs (the "first and only" time it will be available as such) as well as five CDs, which includes the live orchestral performances from the The 54th Venice Biennale in 2008 and Metropolitan Museum of Art last year. The limited edition set, which came out last week, also includes a DVD of that video and a 144-page coffee table book and goes for $225 and part of the proceeds to the National September 11 Memorial Museum. Pitchfork gave it Best New Reissue today with a rare perfect 10.0 score. You can stream the Venice Biennale performance and a remastered version of "Dlp 1.3" below.
William Basinski - "Dlp 1.1" live
William Basinski - "Dlp 1.3"