Often I get stuck. I don’t know how the room is – the stairway or carpet, the door – or what a character sees – the wallpaper, the light from the kitchen – or what she thinks – a dull pain in her calf, a memory of a first-grade teacher – and sit and stare, trying to think it through. Music gets me out. William Basinski and offthesky never fail. William Basinki’s Disintegration Loops – literally the sound of a loop of electronic music slowly disintegrating into other sounds – rises and falls, thick like an ocean.
The front door has been left open, only just, the chain casting a long jeweled shadow on the trim.There is an old wooden banister on the stairs; a narrow carpet runs up it, rolling vines and roots, worn blue, a corner of it bunched at the bottom. The third-last step squeaks. Jason Corder’s musical project offthesky is more immediate, starting engines and building long tenuous chords, moving relentlessly to the precipice.
She has her keys, holding them low in her hand. She has forgotten something. She waits but can’t remember. She opened the door. Yes, she just did that. And she came in. She needed to…she can’t remember. She goes up the stairs slowly, pausing on the third step.And remembered, the moment, only ten minutes ago, that she had stepped off the pavement, her feet on the cracked dirt, the leaves and her shadow there, all of the water now gone, from the river, the path and benches immersed, the stillness, and now back. And she was here. She had liked that.*This blog written to William Basinski’s dlp 1.1 & offthesky’s lossless
“We must change.” So pronounced President Obama at a memorial service on Sunday for the families of victims of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. He is right. There is no doubting that. We are an extremely violent species with an unconscionable past. And we must change that. But can we? Is there really any way to do this? My money is against. The fourth stage of accepting the oncoming apocalypse is a day on which depression, reflection and loneliness dominate. This is supposed to be a long period of sad reflection, but you’ve only got the day. You realize the true magnitude of your loss, and you isolate yourself on purpose. William Basinki’s The Disintegration Loops is ideal for this state of mind. Created in Brooklyn on 9/11, these CDs document the disintegration of sound on reel-to-reel tapes. There are five CDs in all, but Disintegration Loop 5 is 52 minutes well worth trying. Michaelangelo Frammartino’s Quattro Volte evokes a similar feeling; it is a film with a disintegrating narrative of sorts, using an old shepherd, a baby goat, a tree and smoke, in that order. It’s a remarkable film for contemplation. Jose Saramago’s Blindness is far more harrowing, starting with a plague of white blindness that gets worse and worse and worse. It is next to impossible to put down. President Obama concluded his speech with the following: “We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we are powerless in the face of such carnage? That the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?” What are you prepared to do? Genuinely. What? It’s something to think about and act upon. We must change.