The Disintegration Loops – William Basinski

 

What do you know, it’s my second ever sound-art post! This one also came onto my radar through Radiolab (one for you Podcast heads).

Right, so first up, this music is just an achingly beautiful ambient composition. To quote Pitchfork, “It’s the kind of music that makes you believe there is a Heaven, and that this is what it must sound like.” Wave upon wave of sound envelopes everything around you, dissolving space and time. Get the right soundsysem set-up and it is honestly stunning.

But there’s more. The story of these pieces is even more heart-breakingly beautiful than the music itself. In the 80s WB created a bunch of tape loops from processed snatches of music captured from an easy listening station. Fast forward to around 2000 and he is in the process of digitising his collection – but each time the tape plays it disintegrates a little more, with the decay of the tape making the music itself decay. Each tape begins with a simple repeated melody which melts away with each repetition. As the physical tape decays, so the sound decays.

So far so good right? But wait, there’s more. Shortly after he completed the work, he was playing it to some friends in his Brooklyn apartment, when 9/11 happened. At dusk he filmed the smouldering rubble of Manhattan, and set the music to it. It has become an iconic elegy. Pure devastation, and utter serenity.

Wax Tailor

Every Sunday I bring you something a little more downtempo to ease you back into the world.

Two albums today from French trip-hop producer Wax Tailor (Jean-Christophe Le Saoût). He has a signature downtempo sound, with heavy use of looped samples from Hitchcockian classic films, but he also produces a couple of throwback hip-hop gems. These albums will take you on a buzzy, hypnotic, confusing journey through time and space. Yep.

Projections – Romare

Every Sunday I bring you something a little more downtempo to ease you back into the world.

Romare specialises in taking samples from Afro-American culture and reimagining them into super original, modern electronic tracks. Given that he’s a London-born white man there are some that think his approach is a little disrespectful. I’ll leave you to decide where you sit on that subject. Either way, it’s definitely worth a listen (and if it is your jam, you’re in luck – there’s a second album).

Django Reinhardt

I’m growing a moustache to raise money for the Movember Foundation. So this month I will be honouring some of the best moustaches in music. You can donate to my mo here: https://mobro.co/harry-mo

Today it is Mr. Gypsy Jazz himself, Django Reinhardt. He is credited as being one of the most influential and talented jazz musicians of all time. It is the kind of music that takes me to the banks of the Seine in the 50s. Smoky and black & white. It’s wistful and glorious.

Sylvan Esso – Sylvan Esso

I’m growing a moustache to raise money for the Movember Foundation. So this month I will be honouring some of the best moustaches in music. You can donate to my mo here: https://mobro.co/harry-mo

Followers of the blog will know I’m a big fan of Sylvan Esso. This is the album that kicked everything off for the lovable North Carolina duo. The smoothness of their production has come on since they released this one, but in terms of raw freedom of sound, I think this release is hard to match.

Dress and Coffee are my highlights, but there aren’t really any weak tracks. Fun fact, the repeated final refrain from Uncatena (“All I want from you’s a letter and to be your distant lover. That is all that I can offer at this time”) is ripped directly from a break-up letter that singer Amelia Meath received in her teen years. Apparently the experience of having a massive crowd sing it along with her at gigs is incredibly cathartic.

Gallipoli – Beirut

Every Sunday I bring you something a little more downtempo to ease you back into the world.

I’m literally in Beirut (the city) right now. In honour of that fact, and the fact that Beirut (the band) have just released the title track from their upcoming album Gallipoli – here it is! Full of their trademark whistful brass sounds.

Tour details can be found here. Tickets are on sale for the London date now. These guys gave me one of my favourite ever gig experiences, so get involved before they sell out. The album will be released in February.