William Basinski


Temporary Residence • 2020

Most recently, William Basinski strapped on the saxophone for the first time in a long time and, together with his studio partner Preston Wendel, released bizarre jazz derivatives under the name Sparkle Division. With »Lamentations«, however, he returns to his trademark skills and back to the loops that have always formed the basis of his musical work. Instead of a high-spirited vaporwave mood, an atmosphere prevails that is concisely already expressed in the title of the double LP: productive mourning once again. While the majority of Basinksi’s densely layered ambient was based on recordings of instrumental muzak, which were broadcast across the city from the Empire State Building at the time, jazzy and big band touches and even voices can be guessed at on »Lamentations«. Most clearly on »O, My Daughter, O, My Sorrow«, on which a woman in an Arabic-like language intones a lament out of the sound vortex like a siren, and the eleven-minute »All These Too, I, I Love«, the aria-like core element of which is constantly interrupted by mechanical stuttering – a jumping needle perhaps, or even more likely some damage to the magnetic tape – and the principle of which is seamlessly taken up in the laconically titled follow-up track »Please, That Shit Has to Stop«. These are the three most striking, because in a weird poppy way they are tracks from an album on which Basinski contrasts his very abstract last solo albums with figurative, almost physical compositions. The brevity of the pieces contributes all the more with the fact that »Lamentations« can easily be classified as his best album since the monumental »Disintegration Loops«. Since the beginning of his solo career at the end of the nineties, melancholy has found an intense and dreamlike expression in dull, undulating sound sculptures. Sadness suddenly becomes tangible, and with it Basinski’s newly arranged musical past as a contemporary commentary on the untimeliness that calls itself the present.