WILLIAM BASINSKI - Variations: A Movement in Chrome Primitive
[Die Stadt / Durtro,

WILLIAM BASINSKI + RICHARD CHARTIER - William Basinski + Richard Chartier

Let's call this a comparative take on the many faces of William Basinski.

The ever-elusive NYC based composer, William Basinski produced "Variations: A Movement in Chrome Primitive" over two decades ago. This is what he has to say on the recording. "'Variations: A Movement In Chrome Primitive' was created in 1981 using piano tape loops, which were played randomly against themselves creating feedback loops. By "cloning" small cells of melody and then "breeding" them randomly, new sounds were formed. These new sounds move in and out of the original cells, creating complex crystalline structures: new life forms not unlike cities for example, which the original cells occupy, moving in and out of one another in surprising variations. The equipment I used to record these pieces was very primitive and my recording technique preposterously amateurish at that time, yet what occurred in these youthful experiments compelled me to continue learning and growing as a composer."

This is just the theoretical part of the record. Its' actual sound is an entirely different matter altogether. The sound he put together over the course of these two hours are mesmerizing loops of piano, which is played endlessly, into infinity. The music has an extremely hypnotic tendency to it. Certainly, this is minimalism at its finest. Dark, ominous and quite oblique, the music of William Basinski is still attractive and would never scare anyone off. Though Basinski claims the equipment he used was primitive, one can never really tell that from this master. The tapes have apparently been cleaned as the quality is superb. A highly anticipated re-issue, "Variations: A Movement in Chrome Primitive" should be found in any serious record collector's library.

William's self-titled duo release with sound innovator Richard Chartier is another beast altogether. All we have to go on is the fact that the first 20 minute long track "contains Chartier elements from 1991-92 and Basinski elements from 2003 using the Voyetra 8". The second track [36 minutes in length] apparently "contains Chartier elements from 2003 and Basinski tape loops from 1981 and from 2001 using the Voyetra 8". Fine, that's just the technical stuff [though the history of the sources comes in handy if you're trying to do a timeline on an artist]. The sounds these two produce are crystalline, [obviously] repetitive [it's what they do best after all] and extremely calm. There is warmth to this CD that I can't shake off. The sounds are so empowering that they literally suck you in. It's difficult to turn this CD off mid-way. It's almost as if reading a book and putting it down half way. You really want to know how the story ends. Obviously, Basinski and Chartier have an affinity for each other's work. Particular sounds are processed in such a way as not to interfere with individual's unique ideas. This duo record skilfully charts a progress report for both artists' ideas over the last two decades.

Tom Sekowski

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