The fifth edition of CTM’s Polymorphism series brings together William Basinski and The Haxan Cloak, two sound artists whose music explores the possibilities of how discomfort and the uncanny can be transformed into something comforting and uplifting. Despite the many differences between their choice of sound sources and methods, both artists create a deep impact via the complex drones and organic textures of their music. At times elegiac, at times oppressively dark, sometimes aggressive, often ethereal, otherworldly, beautiful or timelessly majestic – Basinski’s subtle musicianship and the high contrast work of The Haxan Cloak reflect on the impermanence of all things while straddling the melancholy inner conflict between the deepest, darkest brooding and bright, clear vision to explore the transcending power of transformation.
“I use feedback loops to achieve something transcendental, to find something eternal that I can listen to over and over.“ – William Basinski
New York-based musician and composer William Basinski has experimented with tape loops and other media at concerts, performances, installations and film projects for nearly 30 years, often in collaboration with filmmaker and partner James Elaine, whose visuals will be included in the performance at Berghain. Basinski’s haunting soundscapes explore processes of entropic decay, loss, mortality, temporality, and the inner workings of memory, and their echoes within states of melancholy, sadness, and nostalgia. His works are considered a prime example of Hauntology, a term introduced to the music world by English music critics Simon Reynolds and Mark Fischer in 2006 to describe an aesthetic that reflects on ways in which the past haunts the present. In this regard, Basinski’s best-known works areThe Disintegration Loops. In 2001 Basinksi attempted to salvage earlier recordings made on magnetic tape by transferring them into digital format. During the recording process the 20 year old tapes gradually disintegrated with the oxide literally being scraped of in flakes. Basinski captured the gradually increasing distortion of the tapes’ audio tracks until their final destruction. Basinski claims to have completed the work the morning of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, and that he sat on the roof of his apartment building in Brooklyn with friends, listening to the project as the towers collapsed. The Disintegration Loops have served as a soundtrack of that terrible event ever since; the work was performed as a live orchestration at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on September 11, 2011 to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attack, and has been inducted into the collection of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
Basinski has published over a dozen albums on his own label, 2062 Records. The albums Shortwave Music (1998) and The River (2003) were released on Raster-Noton, Variations: A Movements In Chrome Primitive was released in 2004 by David Tibet on his Durtro/The City label (2003), Aurora Liminalis (together with Richard Chartier) was released on Line in 2013. Basinski has also repeatedly worked with friends Antony Hegarty (Antony and the Johnsons) and David Tibet (Current93).
The Haxan Cloak
is the solo project of British multi-instrumentalist Bobby Krlic. While the strings, distorted drones, offbeat samples, and primitivist beats of his self-titled debut (Aurora Borealis, 2011) form a dense, captivating, dynamic as dark dramaturgy, his follow-up, Excavation (Tri Angle, 2012), is built on synthetic electronic sounds and a spartan structure in which space and silence themselves are used as expressive elements to increase intensity. Despite the differences between the two releases, Excavation is a seamless continuation of the narrative thread begun in the first album. Indeed the wordless moans and vocals found in the second album’s opening track, entitled “Consumed”, consists of exactly the same haunting sounds on which the first album finished. Where the debut album made use of organic, dirty, and earthy tones in order to approximate bodily decay and the approach of death, in Excavation, these physical and organic sounds move into a more abstract, disembodied sound space that unfolds over contrastingly aggressive, bass-heavy passages, creating an effect of disturbance rather than the pacified landscape commonly envisioned after death.
is a collaboration between Austrian electronic musician Pure (Peter Votava) and Polish percussionist Rafal Iwanski (of Hati) that combines computer-generated sounds with ritualistic percussion. Complex, syncopated polyrhythms are interwoven with dark, meandering drones and pulsating bass waves to create a hypo-cathartic sound experience. Their debut album, Equilirium, was released in 2012 on the Swiss label Hinterzimmer Records.
Peter Votava gained international recognition from his days as one of the most influential protagoninsts in Vienna’s hardcore techno scene in the early 90s. After pranksterish work as rave duo Ilsa Gold (with Christopher Just), which, through absurd, dadaist actions and biting irony commented on the rapid commercialisation of the techno movement, Votava turned to experimental music in the mid-90s and began programming his own software instruments. His most recent studio album, Ification, was released in 2008 on Portuguese label Cronica.
Rafal Iwanski founded the duo Hati in 2001, along with Darek Wojtas, on the basis of a shared fascination with ethnomusicology, tribal music, improvisation, and meditation. Found objects, handmade acoustic instruments, and rituals form the basis of their music.
(Seda Niğbolu) is a Berlin based cultural journalist, radio host and DJ originally from Istanbul. Inspired by the tensions between abstract experimental music and dark pop phenomena, her DJ-sets revolve around the heavy side of the music fusing elements from dark ambient, industrial, folk and doom metal to sound out intense emotional & mental transitions.