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William Basinski - Disintegration Loops


Guest kyriakos

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http://vimeo.com/53985670

 

Ex-pitchfork writer, gets angry at Pitchfork for the 10.0 rating for the Disintegration Loops.

 

I could write loads about this and a part of me agrees that the whole 9/11 association with this record is undoubtedly what put him in the spotlight to start with, but his music existed (and continues to exist) long before the twin towers attack and Basinski himself explains in his interviews the origin of the music, miles away from what it eventually became connected with. It's not a record about 9/11. It's a piece of music that was (re)recorded on this day, by a guy who lived in the city and witnessed it.

 

This is why the vast majority of music journalism and the hype train in general is fucking annoying. People concentrate far too much on the ego of the artist or making often ill-fitting connections between the music and a place/feeling/fantasy, rather than actually sitting down and listening to it for it's own merits. From what I can gather, outside of the album art, it was Pitchfork themselves who flew the flag for the whole "soundtrack for 9/11" nonsense anyway.

 

After all, El Camino Reel stands up as a wonderful piece of music, without needing some real life tragedy as a concept behind it. As always with Pitchfork and it's associates, there are too many words and not enough ears.

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That guy has the exact mustache that I would imagine a Pitchfork writer having.

 

Pitchfork-stache

 

 

And the mason jar full of microbrew...

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Interesting listen, thanks for sharing this. About halfway through and I've decided I like this guy, Chris Ott. Googling some of his other pieces, like this one about the pitchfork ultra-hyped group Pipettes in 2006is dead on: "Like those who fawn over them, the Pipettes have talked their way into this party, and I suspect we will not notice when they have left."

 

ex-Pitchfork-stache

Edited by joshuatx
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i'm pretty sure that asshole must be taking the piss -- he called a slow-downed loop of a new kids on the block chorus "existentialist." i mean, there's no way he can be revolted by cheesiness while at the same time jizzing over lopatin's "be real, it doesn't matter." unless he's just a fucking twat.

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Watch the whole video, he specifically brings up the ecco jams new kids on the block sample and other loop ambient pieces as a comparison, both in positive and negative light. That and say, the work of The Field, are not that different than Disintegration Loops, save for an elaborate back-story. One could argue that Lopatin is actually a more interesting piece, because he specifically found and exploited a loop from a pop song and made it a sonically and emotionally different work. Without the backstory Disintegration Loops would still be a haunting and pretty piece, but just a story of a cassette tape recording falling apart. Scores of other artists have done the same, only Basinski coupled his with an infamous tragic event and therefore is the only one most people will ever listen to.

 

Get to the part where he brings up that disintegration loops has a fucking digital echo effect in the mix. His point is the hype and critical acclaim has been so entrenched in the reception of this album that no one has even listened to it from an objective critical standpoint and then assign praise. Even as someone moved by the story I actually raised an eyebrow when it was mentioned this box set was "remastered." I like the piece very much but as awepittance has pointed out, it's a manufactured story. A moving coinidence, sure, but one that Basinski very knowingly utilized.

 

Also the most lol-worthy aspect IMO was that I pretended Ron Swanson was delivering this rant.

swansonsmile1.gif

Edited by joshuatx
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Guest Lucy Faringold

Chris Ott is a good guy. You don't have to agree with everything he says but his video blog (vimeo.com/shallowrewards) is the most compelling regular music vlog that I know of.

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the point about the lopatin loop is not really a point at all. he's claiming that a slowed down new kids loop lead to existentialist reflections -- there's absolutely no reason this could not be said about basinski's loops as well; only difference is the new kids loop has words like "real" and "be" which are reminiscent (to him) of philosophical terms. personally, i find that really cheesy.

 

his point about the echo on the loops is poorly reasoned. first he says it's cheesy. well, he can stomach new kids on the block so his cheesiness meter is rather skewed to begin with. secondly, he claimed he personally made music with a Casio sk5 which is little more than a toy sampler (a lush one albeit), so his accusation that basinski's use of echo is "cheesy" because it sounds like a Fischer Price echo is dubious at best. i think basinski prob used an echo because he thought it sounded better, maybe because it filled out the texture a bit. the reviewer tries to diss the piece by claiming the echo reduces the seriousness and accuses basinski of uses cheesy reverb -- well, my guess is basinski was just using whatever tools he had to make it sound the way he wanted it to. maybe it was a Fischer price reverb, so what?

 

as for everyone's panty-wadded outrage at the 9/11 issue -- get over it. no one here, not even robbie has any proof whatsoever that basinski's story is made up. and it's quite frankly strange to feel so strongly that it can't be true since it's a perfectly probable event -- 9/11 happened while basinski was recording the loops in the summer of 2001. how is this so hard for people to swallow? and I don't think there's anything wrong with artists explicitly confronting tragic events. ever heard of picasso? no? how bout bob dylan?i think it's important to allow artists to express something about these events and i also think it's perfectly natural for artists to attempt to cope with such things through art, with the express purpose that others may do the same.

 

furthermore, the reviewer insinuates that basinski used a jpeg from the Internet for his art work when in reality the images are stills from his own photography. he also accuses basinski of using high falutin terminology in his interviews and mentions his trigger happy eagerness to discuss 9/11. anyone who has actually read a few interviews with the man will immediately recognize these accusations are complete fabrications. basinski is a very down to earth dude who comes across in interviews as quite humble, kind and anything but pretentious. the reviewer's condescending remark on how basinski is a new york "loft guy" is sort of the final straw -- basinski moved out of his loft because he could barely afford it over the years and finally williamsburg gentrification drove him completely away.

 

the 9/11 aspect of this work is both overblown and under appreciated. basinski lived in nyc for decades and 9/11 was a serious tragic event for him just like other new yorkers. his disintegration loops are a eulogy of sorts, an artistic response the likes of which we have seen from other artists, musicians, poets, etc since like forever. clearly these works resonate with a lot of people, some of them who experienced the attacks personally. it is unreasonable to suggest people cannot approach (not "appropriate" as the reviewer accuses) such an event in a meangful and sincere way. it happened. what is an artist "allowed" to do about it? should basinski just keep his mouth shut and loop new kids on the block songs?

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p.s. @ joshuatx why do you think lopatin's loops is "actually a more interesting piece, because he specifically found and exploited a loop from a pop song and made it a sonically and emotionally different work"? isn't that precisely what basinski's loops are, being samples of muzak?

 

I could totally understand preferring one to the other but i'm missing why lopatin's is fundamentally more interesting?

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the point about the lopatin loop is not really a point at all. he's claiming that a slowed down new kids loop lead to existentialist reflections -- there's absolutely no reason this could not be said about basinski's loops as well; only difference is the new kids loop has words like "real" and "be" which are reminiscent (to him) of philosophical terms. personally, i find that really cheesy.

 

his point about the echo on the loops is poorly reasoned. first he says it's cheesy. well, he can stomach new kids on the block so his cheesiness meter is rather skewed to begin with. secondly, he claimed he personally made music with a Casio sk5 which is little more than a toy sampler (a lush one albeit), so his accusation that basinski's use of echo is "cheesy" because it sounds like a Fischer Price echo is dubious at best. i think basinski prob used an echo because he thought it sounded better, maybe because it filled out the texture a bit. the reviewer tries to diss the piece by claiming the echo reduces the seriousness and accuses basinski of uses cheesy reverb -- well, my guess is basinski was just using whatever tools he had to make it sound the way he wanted it to. maybe it was a Fischer price reverb, so what?

 

as for everyone's panty-wadded outrage at the 9/11 issue -- get over it. no one here, not even robbie has any proof whatsoever that basinski's story is made up. and it's quite frankly strange to feel so strongly that it can't be true since it's a perfectly probable event -- 9/11 happened while basinski was recording the loops in the summer of 2001. how is this so hard for people to swallow? and I don't think there's anything wrong with artists explicitly confronting tragic events. ever heard of picasso? no? how bout bob dylan?i think it's important to allow artists to express something about these events and i also think it's perfectly natural for artists to attempt to cope with such things through art, with the express purpose that others may do the same.

 

furthermore, the reviewer insinuates that basinski used a jpeg from the Internet for his art work when in reality the images are stills from his own photography. he also accuses basinski of using high falutin terminology in his interviews and mentions his trigger happy eagerness to discuss 9/11. anyone who has actually read a few interviews with the man will immediately recognize these accusations are complete fabrications. basinski is a very down to earth dude who comes across in interviews as quite humble, kind and anything but pretentious. the reviewer's condescending remark on how basinski is a new york "loft guy" is sort of the final straw -- basinski moved out of his loft because he could barely afford it over the years and finally williamsburg gentrification drove him completely away.

 

the 9/11 aspect of this work is both overblown and under appreciated. basinski lived in nyc for decades and 9/11 was a serious tragic event for him just like other new yorkers. his disintegration loops are a eulogy of sorts, an artistic response the likes of which we have seen from other artists, musicians, poets, etc since like forever. clearly these works resonate with a lot of people, some of them who experienced the attacks personally. it is unreasonable to suggest people cannot approach (not "appropriate" as the reviewer accuses) such an event in a meangful and sincere way. it happened. what is an artist "allowed" to do about it? should basinski just keep his mouth shut and loop new kids on the block songs?

Everything you just said I absolutely agree with. I cannot add anything more than this.

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i've actually never listened to the disintegration loops because of the association with 9/11 (which i never even knew was being shillinged so hard by pitchfork). this kind of drone-ambient-loop muzik like caretaker's memory stuff is already challenging enough to listen to knowing it's just looped audio from "found music" then filtered to give that static kwality of old gramophone errieness- but dressed up with this particular convenience of 9/11 sorrow seems like it's already telling me how to react before i've even listened to the muzik.

 

if i said i hate this album, does that mean i'm an asshole and have no feelings for 9/11? oddly enough, i really love albums that come with goofy backstories (like the jurgen muller science of the sea record), but i feel like that kind of stuff exists in a kind of fictional universe- whereas this is trying desperately to coincide with something historically significant.

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what's funny about that?

 

i rarely see sincere and thoughtful insight into this aspect of the work. instead, i mostly encounter superficial praise or critique mostly based on whether or not the story is "true" or if an artist is "allowed" to "appropriate" the theme at all. these may be interesting topics but ultimately, at least in this pitchfork art history 101 level of discussion, this distracts from a genuine appreciation of the work as a whole and how the 9/11 aspect is involved. thus, basinski's personal approach to 9/11 is partly under-appreciated.

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i've actually never listened to the disintegration loops because of the association with 9/11 (which i never even knew was being shillinged so hard by pitchfork). this kind of drone-ambient-loop muzik like caretaker's memory stuff is already challenging enough to listen to knowing it's just looped audio from "found music" then filtered to give that static kwality of old gramophone errieness- but dressed up with this particular convenience of 9/11 sorrow seems like it's already telling me how to react before i've even listened to the muzik.

 

if i said i hate this album, does that mean i'm an asshole and have no feelings for 9/11? oddly enough, i really love albums that come with goofy backstories (like the jurgen muller science of the sea record), but i feel like that kind of stuff exists in a kind of fictional universe- whereas this is trying desperately to coincide with something historically significant.

 

to be clear this music isn't filtered to sound old and eerie. the effect you're hearing is the tape itself falling apart as it loops over and over through the spools, hence "disintegration."

 

would you be able to articulate the reaction the 9/11 aspect is "telling" you to have? are you just saying that because of the 9/11 thing you feel like it's supposed to be sad? do you have a similar resistance to films or books with tragic themes? or a requiem? or a eulogy?

 

i'm also quite curious about why you thing this is "trying desperately to coincide with something historically significant." where do you see the desperation?

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Guest Lucy Faringold

C'mon now. :-)

 

Even Basinski himself has said he's tired talking about the 9/11 thing.

 

(@Alcofribas)

Edited by Lucy Faringold
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The 9/11 aspect plays roughly zero into my appreciation of the stuff.

 

My friend described it to me a couple years ago and the process alone sold me.

 

 

(p.s. I'm gay for process music and musique concrete and all that)

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Guest Lucy Faringold

The 9/11 aspect plays roughly zero into my appreciation of the stuff.

 

Same for me. I downloaded this stuff years ago off Soulseek and got into it without any back-story. Kinda wish I never found out about the 9/11 stuff.

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C'mon now. :-)

 

Even Basinski himself has said he's tired talking about the 9/11 thing.

 

(@Alcofribas)

 

i agree 100%. I'm not arguing that we should look further into it at all, i'm saying that the buzz about it has ultimately been a distraction from the "purity" of the original conception. that's what i mean by "under-appreciated" -- i feel like the simplicity and honesty of basinski's approach to 9/11 has been deformed by fans and media alike.

 

it should be noted that i can't recall ever having thought about 9/11 while being submerged in these loops. ; )

Edited by Alcofribas
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to be clear this music isn't filtered to sound old and eerie. the effect you're hearing is the tape itself falling apart as it loops over and over through the spools, hence "disintegration."

 

would you be able to articulate the reaction the 9/11 aspect is "telling" you to have? are you just saying that because of the 9/11 thing you feel like it's supposed to be sad? do you have a similar resistance to films or books with tragic themes? or a requiem? or a eulogy?

 

i'm also quite curious about why you thing this is "trying desperately to coincide with something historically significant." where do you see the desperation?

 

i see the "desperation" in the sound, front cover and backstory. the very word "disintegration" hints at something solem and the image of the towers burning- which we then know fell (disintegrated) is (forgive the pun) just adding fuel to that fire.

 

i'm not saying this album is bad, but it's definitely overly hyped by the story which immediately makes people see it as being "so beautiful and yet so sad". i don't know whether the muzik itself is supposed to be sad (to me personally, this kind of stuff sounds like it tries to be serious but the backstory is definitely leaning more towards the sadness of the situation): for me, i see this album basically trying to capitalize from the 9-11 backstory for it's marketing campaign to align it as "one of those important albums made during a time of great meaning and sadness for the western world".

 

personally, i know a guy who recorded himself snoring the same time kennedy was being assassinated

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I always thought the Awep (and others) hoax theory was more to do with skepticism about the technical backstory (as in, the tape was really genuinely falling apart, but somehow still worked and sounded interesting as opposed to just broke or sounded hideous) than the historical backstory (which I agree, true or not, is tacky/in poor taste).

 

That said, I could be wrong. I blacked out as soon as someone typed the word "vlog"

Edited by Ascdi
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thanks for responding Nebraska and lol @ your pun.

 

it's funny you should feel the very word disintegration brings to mind a solemn quality, although in the context i do see what you mean. i'm perfectly fine with art having a little solemnity from time to time though!

 

i also see your point about it seeming to "capitalize" on the 9/11 thing. but, here's the thing -- should artists refrain from tragic subjects because it might appear to be capitalizing on them? if an artist has something to say about 9/11, what is the proper or acceptable way to do so? and should an artist give a shit? no one seems to bat an eye when a writer, politician, historian, etc takes up the topic, so why are we so eager to hassle artists for having something to contribute?

 

and when people complain that basinski is "capitalizing" off this -- what exactly are we saying here? can an artist only make a living off of work that adheres to a public's standards of decency about taboo subjects? we're seriously giving him shit because pitchfork gave his work a high review? hmmm

 

I always thought the Awep (and others) hoax theory was more to do with skepticism about the technical backstory (as in, the tape was really genuinely falling apart, but somehow still worked and sounded interesting as opposed to just broke or sounded hideous) than the historical backstory (which I agree, true or not, is tacky/in poor taste).

 

That said, I could be wrong. I blacked out as soon as someone typed the word "vlog"

 

I never thought of it that way, Robbie get in here!

 

if that's the origin of the skepticism...well, good on basinski for creating such an hoax imo.

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I'm not into Disintegration Loops, only heard a little and thought it was pretty but boring as hell. I think Philip Jeck does a much better job at what I perceive as this aesthetic. I totally agree with Moustache Guy about that JoJo eccojam though, it's gorgeous.

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