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The Deterioration of Sound

Originally from Houston, TX , William Basinski constructed physical loops of audio tape with random sounds he collected in the late 70s & early 80s. He made hundreds of them. 20 years later while he was digitizing his work, the tapes were deteriorating as they were played back. He recorded the new sounds being generated and arranged the resulting audio into a piece titled The Disintegration Loops. It so happened that while he was attempting to wrap up the whole process we were attacked by terrorists on 9/11/2001. He video recorded the smoke billowing across the New York skyline set to his loops playing.

On the surface, The Disintegration Loops is a conceptual, ambient piece of work to be appreciated in an academic orbit dry of any excitement. What's easy to miss, though, is a wider awareness of music and sound. What is on display here is music's actual physical phenomena and the processes of how music physically happens: the sound waves, the play back gadgets and mechanisms, the magnetic tape's physical chemistry, our biological components of hearing all playing a role in delivering the sensation of listening to music. The Disintegration Loops highlights the ironic attempt to externalize memory indefinitely though it's kept in a more fragile state. Music exists in our brains in a place that can be accessed for a lot longer than the life span of "physical media". On the 10th anniversary of September 11th, The Disintegration Loops was performed by an orchestra at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York scored by Maxim Moston, of Antony and the Johnsons.

The New Yorker points out:

“1989, he(William Basinski) and (James)Elaine moved to a loft in Williamsburg that became known as Arcadia. Basinski began to play his loops for people at Arcadia, which got a reputation as a place for others, including Antony Hegarty, later of Antony and the Johnsons, to develop their craft.” Antony called them “the most helpful and useful music I have ever known."

Earlier this year NPR named "Cascade" by William Basinski as some of the "best music of 2015 (so far)".

Nicolas Jaar created "Other People's Imaginary Feast" using samples supplied by Basinski and others. 

William Basinski performs at Luminaria Friday and Saturday at 8pm at the San Antonio Museum of Art's Auditorium, the schedule for the auditorium: 

7:00      Liz Rodda (video loop)

8:00      William Basinski (performance)

9:00      Oui Danse (video loop)

10:00    Guillermo Gomez Pena (performance)

11:00    Ronnie Cramer (video loop)