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William Basinski & Richard Chartier: Aurora Liminalis (Line)

Aurora Liminalis is one long collaboration between two rather different but somehow kindred musical spirits. William Basinski made a splash with his captivating Disintegration Loops series several years ago (which featured looping electronics on deteriorating tape, documenting a literal disintegration process of the original recordings), and his aesthetic is fragile and warm and usually feels more analogue. Richard Chartier has been helming the Line imprint for some time now, and his œuvre tends to focus on pure digital signal processing and severe minimalism as well as spatial sound installations. Both artists tend to create finished works that are quite ambient, but the tone of each’s work is substantially different. Hearing this collaboration, it somehow makes perfect sense. The push and pull between something organic and warm against a more methodical and clean instinct permeates throughout Aurora Liminalis. The dynamics of the piece ebb and flow, but most of the time I get the impression of shimmering and refracted light, not unlike the stark cover image by James Elaine. The final stretch of decay that comprises the last several minutes of the piece is pure Basinski — a pronounced, analogue tape hiss that grows in intensity before not just rising to the surface, but becoming the surface itself. It’s a subtle piece that is equally soothing and engaging, quietly enveloping like the light its title references.

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