WILLIAM BASINSKI – Variations For Piano & Tape


Hoards of imitators are desperately trying to join the professionals in the decomposed minimalism area but the real thing continues to be William Basinski, founder of a movement which identifies a whole existential background through a few iced frames of consumed – and consuming – stillness. The single track, more than 20 years old, is named “Variations #9: Pantelleria”, in memory of a 2003 residency particularly enjoyed by the artist, who doesn’t hide his love for the Italian island he frequently visits. A short, delicate, Satie-tinged piano arpeggio is looped and repeated all over the piece in a sort of conceptual continuity with Basinski’s previous outing, “The garden of brokenness”. The defining touch comes – once again – courtesy of the tape slipping along the play head, “revealing”, as the composer says, “an extraordinary counterpoint (in reverse) on the other side”. A typical crossover phenomenon that, in this particular case, seems to connect the feelings of calmness and anxiety that everyone (?) experiences over the course of inner growth. This piano figure walks parallel to a quick sequence of dampened bumps and ill-coloured, warped suggestions of misshapen harmony, the whole sounding like a relentless hallucination heard through cushioned walls. Every once in a while, the basic loop is brought forth in the mix, without its unfathomable, inscrutable accompaniment, as to remind us that no matter the ordeals one goes through, there will always be a guide light to save our head from crumbling. It’s undoubtedly one of the very best efforts by this disintegrator of loops and souls, setting an even higher standard that many will reach for, miserably falling short as always.


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