William Basinski

A Red Score in Tile

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Is William Basinski's A Red Score in Tile dealing with obsession? It sure feels that way. It consists of a Fender Rhodes loop, 20 seconds of a slow, melancholy motif. The tape is worn, the grain of the sound showing like an old photograph; the playback speed of the reel-to-reel machine changes almost imperceptibly, bending one particular note. These are only two of the many details you will have time to discover and/or make up if you hold on through the 45 minutes of the piece -- around 135 reiterations of the loop. Honestly, it's uncertain if modifications are applied to the loop in the course of the piece. The repetition becomes so obsessive, a mix of fondness for the cute fragment and annoyance at the reiteration, that reality becomes blurry. Expecting change, the listener occasionally hears changes, only to reason with himself and decide that, no, it's still the same -- and reconsidering again after a while, in a vicious cycle of imagination and disbelief. Surface noise from the turntable stylus makes matters worse, as it adds alterations that are not meant to be there (or are they?). The strangely romantic quality of Disintegrating Loops (the album which revealed Basinski's music in 2002) is absent from this 1979 tape composition. What remains is an odd exercise in stimuli depravation. The piece came out in 2003 on an LP released by Three Poplars through Die Stadt.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
45:05 Amazon
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