William Basinski + Richard Chartier - Aurora Liminalis [Line - 2013]Now in its second edition of 500, Aurora Liminalis is the second collaboration from these East Coast minimalists. Whereas the three untitled pieces produced by the pair in 2003 blended their solo experiments with the Voyetra 8, an analog synth module of the early Eighties, this new release, consisting of a single 45 minute piece, offers no such information on its ingredients nor intent.
However, given the pedigree and consistent focus of these composers, where Basinski's compositions exploit the unpredictable qualities of redundant media and entropic tape loops while Chartier is more disposed to fragile digital sound sculptures, the results are an expert fusion of the commonalities and tensions between their idiosyncratically different working methods.
Growing very gradually from an atmospheric rumble, Basinski and Chartier augment their listener's reality with sonorous, suspended tones that arc and soar to describe elemental movements on a planetary scale. Their natural surges move with the perceived speed of a distant aircraft, it's seemingly slow trajectory is an illusion that masks the true speed and turbulence felt in the cockpit. In this way, the sound suggests distant, large movements in a heavy, portentous sky. Then, less than a quarter of the way in the charged particles suggested by its title further animate the sonic vista in the form of percussive taps and emboldened tones smoothly, yet ominously, expanding.
It's a majestic, if lonely, journey as their daunting atmospherics sail through quelled and quietened passages to arrive in billowing and thunderous beyonds. The feedback-like glassy tones that gild their surging sound-field shine with a delicate grace that obscures an underlying sense of menace, like the beauty of a sparkling sea, when observed from a distance, hides its merciless, deathly power.
And it's this evocation of the strength and elegance of the elementsthat make Aurora Liminalis such a compelling experience. The atmosphere Basinski and Chartier have expertly built is both graceful and wild, at once an inviting and intriguing experience and yet to be feared.Russell Cuzner