A Shadow in Time by William Basinski

Release date: January 15, 2017
Label: Temporary Residence

An artist whose grandest work includes the phenomenally powerful and emotive series titled The Disintergration Loops, minimalist composer William Basinski has certainly showcased an incredible grasp of how such minute detailing of music, including the gaps of empty space, can even come forward and speak in such incredible volumes. On Basinksi’s latest body of work A Shadow in Time, we see Basinski once again bringing an extraordinary power to his ambient compositions, creating another emotive album experience which even features a very fitting tribute to the late David Bowie. Albums that offer such a heavy yet beautiful experience can be somewhat difficult to approach, yet they communicate their intentions so effectively and effortlessly, that the impact will remain for some time.

A Shadow in Time features much of Basinski’s trademark style, utilizing repetitive droning sections washed in an almost hollow sounding echo. Basinski slowly and subtly builds up his world, enforcing it with accompanying details that don’t ever detract, but instead accompanies what has been laid down before. Nothing ever feels wholly explicit, with the nature and tone of the album behind hidden beneath layers that one has to search for themselves. It is perhaps represented best in the album artwork, where a distorted and hazy vision blurs what is beneath the surface.

It’s at times difficult to approach works by Basinski. Whilst the artists work, rooted in minimalist ambient music, offers incredibly meditative and relaxing experiences, there are at times a very heavy and powerful emotion clung to much of the work. It’s never a negative trait, and instead showcases Basinski’s incredible style, it does result in an album that one may struggle to find the correct time and context to listen too. When one does find the correct time and place, the impact can certainly be a powerful thing.

Basinski’s latest work will no doubt be remembered by those who are already a fan of his delicate yet emotive style. A Shadow in Time sees Basinski on the surface simply doing exactly what he does best, whilst also creating a very fitting memoriam for the late David Bowie (which some fans may note evokes very similar feelings to Bowie’s own track ‘Subterraneans’ ). It feels a very fitting tribute that expresses both loss and admiration for such a renowned song-writer. Basinski has created a truly wonderful album experience with A Shadow in Time, a perfect demonstration of his own style, complete with all the emotions that comes with it.

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