raster-noton. archiv für ton und nichtton : william basinski

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william basinski

William Basinski is a musician, composer, auteur who has worked in experimental media for over twenty years in NYC, expanding the boundaries of the aural landscape. A classically trained clarinetist, he studied jazz saxophone and composition at North Texas State University in the late 70’s. In 1978, inspired by minimalists such as Steve Reich and Brian Eno, he began developing his own vocabulary using tape loops and old reel to reel tape decks. He developed his meditative, melancholy style experimenting with short looped melodies played against themselves creating feedback loops. His early studies with piano and tape, from 1980 –82, Variations: A Movement in Chrome Primitive, is scheduled for release for the first time on David Tibet’s London label, Durtro in Spring 2004.

In 1982, he began experimenting with pulling sound from the airwaves. By sampling short melodies from Muzak radio onto tape loops of varying lengths, slowing them down, and mixing them together with a symphony of shortwave radio static in real time, he created his Shortwave Music series. A selection of these pieces was released to critical acclaim in 1998 by Carsten Nicolai’s German avant-garde label, Noton. The culmination of these studies, the 1983 masterwork, The River, a 90-minute “music of the spheres” was released on Raster-Noton in Dec 2002. Using current available cheap technology, Basinski created an “instant” 90 minute video for The River, by running the music through the audio-visualizer program, ArKaos that came with his Apple Powerbook, videotaping the animation off the screen and editing in I-movie. This was shown at Voxxx Galerie in Chemnitz, Germany (home of raster-noton) from May 26-June 17,2002 to launch the release of the 2 CD box set.

Basinski’s Watermusic, was released on his own label, 2062, in February 2001. A 60-minute, tranquil, shimmering ambient piece created on the Voyetra Synthesizer over a period of months spanning the turn of the century, Watermusic has received critical acclaim and is available through distributors in America, Europe and Japan. His new pieces, The Disintegration Loops, were created in August 2001. In the process of archiving and digitizing old loops, Basinski discovered a group of bucolic loops that began to disintegrate during the recording process. These pieces seem to portray the life and death of the American pastoral landscape. The 6 pieces were released in sequence on 4 CD’s, starting in June 2002. As of December 2003, Disintegration Loops 1 through 4 have been released to rave reviews as well as Watermusic II, and a compilation of loop pieces from the early eighties, Melancholia. 2062’s releases are available through DIE STADT, FORCED EXPOSURE and various other international distributors as well as through his website, MMLXII.com. A 63 minute video with Disintegration Loop 1.1 had its world premiere at the 2002 Rotterdam International Film Festival. It consists of one static shot of lower Manhattan shot from his roof in Brooklyn on the evening of September 11th, 2001, as that fateful day turned to night. It will be released on DVD by HEADZ, Japan in early fall 2004. His video collaboration with artist, James Elaine, a thirty minute ambient film study Variations, had its world premiere at Rotterdam and will be released as a special DVD edition by IDEA RECORDS in spring 2004. Another very early tape loop piece from 1979, A Red Score in Tile, was released on Christoph Heeman’s 3 Poplars in limited edition LP in May 2003 and is distributed by DIE STADT, Germany . Keep an ear out for Basinski’s new hour-long monthly web-radio show, The Slipstream on wps1.org debuting in April 2004.


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releases from william basinski

cdr056 archiv 1 (compact disc)

cdr048 the river (2 x compact disc)

cdr052 weltecho.box (2 x compact disc, mixed mode)