Essential New Music: William Basinski’s “A Shadow In Time”

In the 15 years since William Basinski began releasing The Disintegration Loops—his epochal tape-loop masterpiece that’s become inseparable from its now-legendary recording on his Brooklyn rooftop the night of 9/11—the work has garnered levels of myth usually reserved for folk heroes and minor deities. Even so, Basinski has proven remarkably capable at existing far outside of his own legacy, his uncanny ability to wring entire worlds from his famously deep tape archives proving more remarkable with each subsequent release. A Shadow In Time is no exception, splitting its time between the placid ambiance of the title track and the impossibly melancholy lament of “For David Robert Jones.” The latter, an elegy titled for David Bowie, ranks easily among the most somber pieces in Basinski’s catalog, its yawning lead orchestral sample very gradually opening up to a mournful, distorted horn line, which itself slowly gives way to a cavernous silence.

—Möhammad Choudhery