William Basinski Plays Magnificent Loops

Visionary minimalist performer William Basinski played a marathon eight-hour show at The Issue Project Room on November 9 in Brooklyn Heights.

Performed is not a fair word for this event. While he was most certainly dressed as a performer – head to toe in black, including gloves and dark glasses – he did little more than sit at a large table, chose the desired track, and then stared out, like the rest of us.

I was a little off to the side, near the sound board, where two tech guys either slept or hunched over their phone and incessantly scrolled their social media. So began the eight-hour marathon.

The small crowd of 200 sat rapturously watching Basinski watch his laptop as a Borealis light show dripped down the wall of the very cool – actually cold – landmark building. It was hard to stay focused – even with the cold – hard not to drift off to sleep, Basinski himself wandering off every hour for 10-minute breaks of his own.

Basinski is best known for The Disintegration Loops, a collection of loops he had recorded many years ago on analog tapes and re-recorded on 9/11 as the tapes physically deteriorated. He played four of these haunting recordings – Disintegration Loops 1.2,.2.1, 4 & the epic Disintegration Loop 5 – or, to be more accurate, his computer played these as he watched his computer and we watched him do that as the visuals continued to cascade.

In the end, Basinski closed his laptop, the visuals faded, and he thanked the 60 or so of us who had persevered and offered free stickers as our reward.

As crazy as it might sound, as tired as I was, all I could think of was when he might be doing this again.

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