In their review of The Disintegration Loops by William Basinski, Pitchfork.com writes the following:
During the summer of 2001 William Basinski set about transferring a series of 20-year-old tape loops he’d had in storage to a digital file format, and was startled when this act of preservation began to devour the tapes he was saving. As they played, flakes of the magnetic material were scraped away by the reader head, wiping out portions of the music and changing the character and sound off the loops as they progressed, the recording process playing an inadvertent witness to the destruction of Basinski’s old music.
In essence, Basinksi is improvising using nothing so much as the passage of time as his instrument, and the result is…an encompassing soundworld as lulling as it is apocalyptic. A piece may begin bold, a striking, slow-motion slur of ecstatic drone, and in the first minute, you will notice no change. But as the tape winds on over the capstans, fragments are lost or dulled, and the music becomes a ghost of itself, tiny gasps of full-bodied chords groaning to life amid pits of near-silence. Some decay more quickly and violently than others, surviving barely 15 minutes before being subsumed by silence and warping, while the longest endures for well over an hour, fading into a far-off, barely perceptible glow.
There is another, eerier chapter to the story of the Disintegration Loops – that Basinski was listening to the playbacks of his transfers as the attacks of September 11th unfolded, and that they became a sort of soundtrack to the horror that he and his friends witnessed from his rooftop in New York that day, a poignant theme for the cataclysmic editing of one of the world’s most recognizable skylines. Removed from the context of that disaster and transposed into the mundane world we live everyday, The Disintegration Loops still wield an uncanny, affirming power. It’s the kind of music that makes you believe there is a Heaven, and that this is what it must sound like.
God is dead, we are in the midst of decomposition, and we live as the decay. The world is and will be forever changed. Our voices echo off the tombs and monuments of God, a voiceless void and eternal disintegration loop.
The question, however, is what will emerge in the wake of this death, decomposition, and decay.