Instagram by Adam Aronson
It’s hard to write about William Basinski without using the words minimalist and mournful. And both were true about his Diana Wortham Theatre performance. Having not seen him before, I was disappointed that he didn’t bring his clarinet or saxophone to the stage, but he did bring his magnificent head of hair and a mostly-greyscale video of a full moon adrift among the clouds.
The soundtrack that Basinksi performed, in the darkened room, recalled at times the peals of distant church bells, tuned against each other. Not exactly inharmonious, but eerie nonetheless. It also would have worked well as the score to a silent film, cuing the moment when a caped vampire alighted in a window frame, inches from his sleeping prey.
But not a vengeful, bloodthirsty vampire. More of an anemic, world-weary monster.
It would be easy to drift off to sleep to Basinski’s music, which isn’t a comment on it being boring. It’s the kind of sonic meandering that would lend itself to dreaming; especially to the twilit passage between wake and sleep, when the breath is shallow and half-formed visions gather just beyond the mind’s eye. And who among us couldn’t stand to rest our over-busy minds? To drift on a sea resonant, atonal notes with no discernible pattern or rhythm for an anchor. Just notes, minimal and mournful, falling like rain on the ears.