Once again unveiling hidden treasures from his archive of tape loops, William Basinski releases three pieces made at his Brooklyn apartment during one night in 1982, adding a fourth composition (based on the same source material) made earlier this year.
You can’t help but wonder why this music, recorded so long ago, is only just surfacing. Was the world not ready for WIlliam Basinski in 1982, or was WIlliam Basinski simply not ready to hand himself over to an audience at that point? Whatever the reasoning, we’re certainly reaping the benefits of the influential ambient composer’s stockpile, and 92982 proves to be a real highlight in his output of recent years.
Despite the minimalist essence of Basinski’s oeuvre there’s a pronounced sense of variety, diversity and depth at work in these four tracks, with each taking on its own specific persona. ‘92982.1’ is outstanding, featuring lilting, gritty strings through the left of the stereo field while crumbling piano sonorities rule to the right. Far from exhibiting any signs of automation or impersonal repetition you can always hear a human hand shaping the music.
The faded, rattling chord movements of ‘92982.2’ take on an altogether more ghostly, dissolved quality, with echo-flecked machine jolts peppering the mixdown, underlining how fragile this whole process is. The third track, meanwhile, is an extended version of a piano-based piece that appeared in its original incarnation on the Variations: A Movement In Chrome Primitive album (surely one of the standout albums in Basinski’s entire catalogue), here stretched and developed over the course of twenty minutes. It’s a beautiful study in the interplay between an instrumental performance and the medium onto which it’s recorded, full of ruptures and low frequency rumble as the tape itself interferes with the flow and consistency of the music.
Finally, Basinski takes a fresh angle on his source loops with a composition recorded in February of this year. There’s a markedly different character to this final entry; an unexpected cleanliness that somehow feels just right as a coda to the archival dust and dereliction of all that’s come before. Its tacit stateliness serves as confirmation that all these years on, Basinski has lost none of his form, and that despite the richness of his work in the early eighties he’s still a very active, utterly compelling creative force.