Quality: 5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 5 out of 5
This collection of sounds really rates more as an experience than music. The concept at work here came about purely by accident. Basinski intended to simply convert some loops from tape to digital. Unfortunately (at first), his tape machine was slowly destroying the tapes. In a stroke of inspiration, Basinski simply let the tapes run on to their end, and that's exactly what we hear on this album. No music is really being legitimately played, and we hear only the sounds of slow decay. As a strange coincidence, Basinski converted and thereby intentionally destroyed some of these tapes with the smoke of 9/11 billowing over his NYC apartment (I think I saw a very well done 9/11 documentary that used this and ambient street sounds alone on its soundtrack to account for the events of that day; unfortunately I saw the doc on TV before becoming familiar with these discs, so I'm not entirely sure). Far from exploitational, this drives home the concept of mortality as the tapes degrade. This makes the music potentially depressing, but I find the loops far more intellectually stimulating than simply being depressing would entail. I think it's best to view this as a zen experience as we hear something beautiful fade away into absolute oblivion.
The loops themselves are mostly ambient sounding orchestral bits. Yes, this are intensely repetitive sounds, and just by listening, you would notice little change. If you skip around, though, you'll find that over time there are major changes to the loops until they finally sputter beyond the veil of any defined sounds. The tracks go on as long as is needed for the sounds to disintegrate. The shorter ones run out of gas in about 10 minutes or so, but some of the loops go on for more than an hour. All in all, there are four distinct loops heard in various stages on different tracks
This is the last thing that you're going to grab for your next party, and I would wager than this is best experienced in solitude. If you put in the effort to really listen to these very avant-garde sounds, I think you may find the dividends very rewarding. If you have any interest in ambient drones (like Coil's Time Machines), you very well may consider this an absolute masterpiece. As the rating above suggests, I do.