William Basinski
Neil Wiernik
The Music Gallery - Toronto
June 12th, 2010

Report and photographs by Tom Sekowski

Ambient music can be some of the most sorely boring in a live scenario. So much so, oftentimes, artists accentuate their performances with light shows, projections, etc. This was luckily not the case during this performance by Toronto's Neil Wiernik and ambient-guru William Basinski. Each act gathered enough strength and build ample momentum to make any distractions secondary.

Having composed music as for nearly two decades, Neil Wiernik sounds and acts like a pro. There is nothing amateurish about his presentation or the music he shares with the audience. Luckily for us, this night we got to hear a premiere of a lengthier piece Neil has been working on for a while. Only about 35 minutes in length, the piece revolved around a clunky rumbling sound. Initiated on Wiernik's guitar, and processed through his laptop, the rumble took on sifting patterns and kept revolving on their own axis. Intermittently, the listeners were treated to high-pitched, excruciatingly ear-piercing sound that lived for no more than a few seconds. Then, all calm was restored and the pattern of bass-filled cyclical din continued. Variations were few, but when they arrived, the listeners had to prick our ears to catch gentle innuendos and fruitful crescendos that were thrown our way. Strong performance from someone who has time and again proven to have a knack for compositions that are filled of calm angst.

Gentle persuasion was on the mind of William Basinski. His style was reduced to tape machine that he fed dilapidated tape loops into. In controlling the speed and pitch and amassing control through his laptop, he gave birth to a spherical sound that had girth and considerable mass. Flying above our heads were sounds of mish-mashed ambient sources of alien origins. Many of the members of the audiences lied down on the church floor, closed their eyes and put their own visuals to this music. Not to say the composition was without its faults. Few instances were evident when the tape cued up was mis-matched with the overwhelming sound of the moment. Basinski quickly turned down the mixer, though it was too little too late. The spell was broken. Coherence was not as gelled as it should've been in those particular moments. Nonetheless, this was still a very strong piece of work. Even at only 45 minutes in length, Basinski has the guttural power to showcase worn tape as a vital tool that can form the basis for music that has ethereal and heart-breaking value.

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>> William Basinski, Neil Wiernik - The Music Gallery - Toronto, June 12th, 2010