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Album #315: William Basinski – Lamentations

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: New York City, USA
  • Label: Temporary Residence
  • Best Track: O, My Daughter, O, My Sorrow

The only work I know by the avant-garde composer William Basinski is his 2002-03 project The Disintegration Loops, which is literally the sound of a short piece of music being played again and again until the tape is destroyed. Cleverly (or opportunistically, depending on your viewpoint), he tied it in with the 9/11 attacks and claims he finished the project as the World Trade Centre was collapsing. True or not, it’s an intriguing and groundbreaking listen.

His new album, Lamentations, explores death and grief, and again is an act of chopping and splicing old tapes dating back to 1978. That seems to be his oeuvre, looping pieces of music until they start to sound like something different, in the manner of Steve Reich or Philip Glass.

It works though. Whether it’s the short burst of opera singing on ‘All These Too, I, I Love’ or the deeply moving and mournful ‘O, My Daughter, O, My Sorrow’, what a haunting and chilling record this is! It’s rare that I can dapple into something so far outside of my usual listening comfort zone, and yet “get it” like I do with this.

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