Song review: Mono No Aware (William Basinski)

Basinski’s Disintegration Loops have found “a new career in a new town” (hat-tip to David Bowie) in Mono No Aware. Whereas we are mere bystanders in the recordings of the Disintegration Loops – listening to the unique lives of each loop while Basinksi dutifully and patiently records their death throes – Mono No Aware puts Basinski firmly at the helm. He’s in control and designs a formidable landscape: foreboding and cold, yet somehow simultaneously warm and full of promise; distant and unapproachable, yet somehow familiar and comfortable.

The song’s second movement, starting around the 8 minute mark, is punctuated by faded, horn-like calls and muted effects reminiscent of industrial scenery. These unsettling contrasts are powerfully and calmly presented in Mono No Aware, proof that Basinski is exercising masterful control and thoughtful development over this remarkable piece of music. Truly, this is Basinski at his best.