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Variations for Piano & Tape

William Basinski

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Album Review

Over the past several years, William Basinski has released on his 2062 imprint several archived releases of his work with tape loops and piano from the '70s and '80s. Variations for Piano and Tape is no exception. Much of the 45-minute piece relies heavily on trademark Basinski elements: a melancholic melody played on a piano with a sense of fragility and romantic sentimentality, repeated over and over at a slow tempo. However, what sets this piece apart from its contemporaries is the method in which the tape provides such a haunting counterpoint. Like his Disintegration Loops series, the tape machine acts as an agent slowly modifying and eroding the original piece, this time providing a reverse piano (thanks to the other side of the tape wearing through) as a counterpoint melody. For fans of Basinski's work, there is nothing here out of the ordinary that will provoke or irritate — nothing to shock, and he really doesn't make any bold departures sonically with this piece. However, it is definitely one of the most relaxed, soothing pieces in his entire catalog, and it is one of the more accessible pieces as well.

Variations for Piano & Tape, William Basinski
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