The Disintegration Loops
|The Disintegration Loops|
|Studio album by|
|Genre||Tape music, ambient, drone|
|William Basinski chronology|
The Disintegration Loops is a series of four albums by the American avant-garde composer William Basinski, released in 2002 and 2003. The albums comprise recordings of tape loops that gradually deteriorate. Basinski created the effect by playing the loops for extended periods, allowing the tape to deteriorate each time they passed the tape head; he discovered the effect after attempting to transfer his recordings to digital format.
The completion of the recording coincided with the 9/11 attacks, which Basinski witnessed from his rooftop in Brooklyn; the artwork features Basinski's footage of the New York City skyline in the aftermath of the World Trade Center's collapse. He dedicated the music to the victims of the attacks.
The Disintegration Loops gathered critical acclaim. It was initially released in four parts, and was reissued in 2012 on its tenth anniversary as a nine-LP box set. Two orchestral renditions have also been performed, and were included in the reissue.
In the 1980s, Basinski recorded from found sound sources, shortwave radio and delay systems, influenced by musicians such as Steve Reich and Brian Eno. Decades later, while transferring the recordings from magnetic tape to digital format, Basinski found that the tape had deteriorated; as it passed the tape head, the ferrite detached from the plastic backing. He allowed the loops to play for extended periods as they deteriorated further, with increasing gaps and cracks in the music. He further treated the sounds with a spatializing reverb effect.
Basinski finished the project the morning of the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City, and sat on the roof of his apartment building in Brooklyn with friends as the World Trade Center collapsed. He filmed the fallout during the last hour of daylight from a roof, and the following morning he played "Disintegration Loop 1.1" as a soundtrack to the aftermath. Stills from the video were used as the covers for the set of four CDs, and several weeks later Basinski dedicated the work to the victims in a postscript in the liner notes. He said that "the events gave new meaning to the musical pieces created by catastrophic decay in my studio a few weeks before".
Pitchfork named The Disintegration Loops I–IV the 30th-best album of 2004 and the 196th-best album of the 2000s. In 2016, Pitchfork named it the third-best ambient record of all time. It was named the 86th best album of the decade by Resident Advisor, and the 10th best by Tiny Mix Tapes.
On September 4, 2012, New York-based record label Temporary Residence reissued the entire Disintegration Loops as a nine-LP box set, marking the project's 10-year anniversary and its impending induction into the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. The collection, which was remastered, was released in a limited edition of 2,000 copies, with a 5xCD version, 63-minute DVD, and 144-page coffee table book with photos and liner notes by Basinski, Antony, David Tibet, Ronen Givony and Michael Shulan.
- List of ambient music artists
- Minimalist music
- Magnetic tape
- Everywhere at the End of Time, often compared to The Disintegration Loops
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- The Sound of Decay|The New Yorker
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- Temporary Residence to Release Vinyl Box Set for William Basinski's Disintegration Loops Series|Pitchfork