but I didn't see that the joke was on me...oh no...
I started to cry, which started the whole world laughing
oh, if I'd only seen that the joke was on me..."
William Basinski was trying to preserve some of his old tape loops from 20 years ago and realized that the safety window had been long past and it was too late. The magnetic material on the tapes began to flake away as they played and the sound began to fade away and decay with the tapes and change drastically in character as the tapes were played over and over again. So he just let them play over and over again, until the sound decayed into almost nothing and recorded this process. These recordings are so beautiful because the slowly escalating destruction of the sound, as it plays out, changes the loop each time it repeats itself, making what would be identical cycles become constantly (d)evolving ones. The sound of the disintegration of the music creates a fascinating music itself. I've never sat and listened to the process of a physical/analog recording disintegrating into nothing before, but I'd do it again any day. This is the sound of music dying in the physical world and making its transition into the digital one. It can never go back.
Here's a cool review on Pitchfork.
And you can get the whole thing here.