William Basinski will always be most known for his colossal magnum opus The Disintegration Loops - an exhaustive quadruple record which contains an enormous ambient beauty unrivalled by very much over the last decade. Basinski is a modern day Vivaldi, orchestrating beautiful large 40-60 minute pieces that rise and fall like a gorgeous composition should.
His 2013 recording Nocturnes is no exception to this standard of excellence. It’s a two piece album, two tracks: a self-titled 40 minute piece as well as a second 30 minute piece. The record flows like most of his work, each track as its own piece and from start to finish takes you on a trip as it should. Its brilliance lies in its timelessness. It has no signs of modernism or nostalgia in its instrumentation; it could be from the 1970s or earlier even.
The second track, “The Trail of Tears” is shorter and less grandiose than the former track, but in its conciseness, also less impressive. Still, it’s quite lovely and comes across as elegantly as his earlier works. That said, it’s the title track and meat of the record that solidify it as brilliant.
“Nocturnes” twists and turns musically echo the amazing greatest moments of Disintegration Loops I-IV and their massiveness in systematically linking sound with emotion. This is why people listen to ambient music – for tracks as superb as this. While of course, Nocturnes does not live up to the staggering legacy of Disintegration Loops, it is one of Basinski’s best works since and definitely one of the best records released this year.