When William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops collection was released in 2002, it reached an audience that normally might have been unreceptive to the kind of hushed, largely static music within, but because of its thematic (and sonic) link to the events of a few months prior, these haunting, fragile recordings affected a lot of people and served as a peaceful meditation, memorial, and reminder. When we looked back at our favorite albums of the 2000s, Disintegration Loops came in at #10, and Keith Kawaii had this to say about its historical/personal significance:
Disintegration Loops was a perfect example of an album’s narrative completely shaping its perception. Like most, I was introduced to the work through its connection to 9/11, and the imagery of Basinski blaring his loops across a smoke-filled New York skyline has never left me. I can only assume that my own experience with those loops was common: they became an aural monument to the tragedy of 9/11, a crystallization of the events through sound. Connecting this sprawling piece to such a horrible act was a very human impulse, spun from the desire to compartmentalize an experience and covet a linear narrative that might obscure the chaos of real life. In my mind, the work instantly became something “more” than four albums pressed to and released on CD. It served a personal and collective experience in a way that records rarely do. Through loss, the mythology of Disintegration Loops was perpetuated, and its simple yarn allowed typical album/culture trappings to fall away. Basinski’s method of looping sounds endlessly — and letting the aleatoric results comprise the finished work — further separated the artist from his art; in fact, it appeared as non-art, the antithesis of ego, filled with illusions of eternality instead of opportunist rockisms. For me, that sheen of endless purity has allowed an inherently flawed pretense — that Disintegration Loops was somehow above the work of a single man — to serve a deeply cathartic purpose: reliving tragedy without the full sting of reality.
This upcoming September marks the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and as a remembrance The Wordless Music Orchestra will be performing “dlp 1.1” — the 63-minute first track off Disintegration Loops I — in Manhattan at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. This performance is part of a larger “Remembering September 11” concert, with renditions of Ingram Marshall’s Fog Tropes II, Osvaldo Golijov’s Tenebrae, and Alfred Schnittke’s Collected Songs Where Every Verse Is Filled with Grief also happening before the main event. It all starts in The Temple of Dendur exhibit at 3:30 PM and is free with museum admission; should be amazing. Check out the entirety of “dlp 1.1” below.