William Basinski A Shadow in Time
Published Feb 21, 2017There is so much in the stillness of William Basinski's music, layer upon layer of musical information that finds a richness of harmony and melody in the very immobility it often describes. The first of the two side-long tracks is an aurora of drone that lives primarily in highs that are pitched like glassy vibrations shot through with light. If you concentrate, eventually you'll perceive the more subdued loops beneath that tether the weightless strings to something at least partly earthbound. Eventually, this title track resolves in lodestar bass tones, pointing the way over the horizon.
Side two is Basinski's elegy to Bowie, "For David Robert Jones," and it is a fittingly cosmic send-off. It's the sound of leaving, or of disappearing in a sudden swell of fog at dawn. The choral loop that frames the track suggest angels that have spent some time on the streets of London or Chelsea, holy but a little sooty as well. Eventually, a distant and corroded saxophone drifts into earshot, buffeted by whatever wind the loop's whirl generates, a clarion for the sad procession. It's a piece that Basinski apparently revisited and refined throughout 2016, a year made monumental by its cultural losses — and it's one of his very best. (Temporary Residence)