Live Music

William Basinski at The Lantern, Bristol

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Posted on 12th May 2017

William Basinski / Tom Rodgerson

The Lantern, Bristol

3 May, 2017

The night began with Tom Rodgerson of noise-pop band Three Trapped Tigers, whose ambient drone mixed solo piano, synth sounds, industrial textures, improvisation, occasional vocals evocative of Nils Frahm; a bit of Masayoshi Fujita mixed with Mike Oldfield and Jean Michel Jarré. An excellent support for William Basinski, with enough similar differences and different similarities to make the juxtaposition thoughtful.

Sonic priest-composer William Basinski arrived from New York to Colston Hall’s The Lantern to perform his new album, A Shadow in Time - his 23rd studio album! Best known for Disintegrations Loops, music that does just that, a tape loop that slowly disintegrates over time. Perhaps for some high concept over substance, for others the simple beauty of sonic entropy throws up ideas about memory, life as we move through age and music that couldn’t be made or found in any other way. It’s a new kind of music, inextricable with a new way of listening.

But tonight Basinski brings a touch of glam, mystery and fog with his drones and an homage to the late David Robert Jones, better known as David Bowie. The concert is in two parts, the two sides to the record A Shadow in Time. The first side, For David Robert Jones was a majestic six minutes turned into a sax loop with haunting echoes of the past and sounds that wouldn’t be out of place as the music background to Laura and Leyland Palmer in David Lynch’s film Fire Walk With Me.  A tribute to Bowie and the much revered Low sessions of the 70s, in particular the song Subterraneans, is like a trace of musical history just burning out in its last melancholy embers. 

The second side of A Shadow in Time is much softer and glassier; the background lighting turns to bright behind Basinki’s sequinned silhouette. The music at this point is so relaxed, Basinksi himself rests his head in his hand as though awaiting a drink at the bar. The ambient flow of the last wave of piano loops was so gentle, like a dream sending us off into a lullaby night.  

Annie Gardiner & Dan Johnson

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