Using exclusive source recordings from the interferometers of LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory), William Basinski captures the sound of two distant massive black holes merging, around 1.3 billion years ago.
The ambient maestro wastes no time in setting up the atmosphere: an eternal, thundering boom shudders through the music, suggesting an immense event and signalling the moment of collision, obliterating and creating at the same time, while a high, whining pitch – coming from the circuitry, the snaking cables, and the banks of computers – is redolent of advanced technology, scanning the stars from the safety of a control room. The sound draws in another breath, gathering up more energy before unleashing itself once more; it’s a recurring rhythm in deep space.
On Time Out of Time lights up slowly, awakening to something immense. Its gaseous beams of pure light seem to reflect a royal grandiosity. Presented with galaxy after galaxy, the Universe reveals its unmatched generosity; we are but a distant eyelash on a Galactic spiral. Basinski’s music sits outside of time, stretching beyond its mechanized clock-face to incorporate the cosmic. As it floats in the heavens, constrictions are thoroughly erased.
In popular culture, deep space is often cold and alien, but NASA’s Hubble Telescope has shown us its beautiful majesty, too. The Universe holds our planet in its invisible hands, and while it has the capacity to frighten and to stun, it’s also home. Basinski’s music widens the frame, stretching the music into a widescreen aspect ratio, bringing abundant warmth to ever-present awe. Instead of freezing the space suit, On Time Out of Time is warm and kind. We’re connected to the deepest parts of the Universe. We are one.
Originally commissioned for the installations ‘ER=EPR’ and ‘Orbihedron’ by artists Evelina Domnitch and Dmitry Gelfand (and in collaboration with Jean-Marc Chomaz and LIGO) for an exhibition entitled ‘Limits of Knowing’ (curated by Isabel de Sena at Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin), On Time Out of Time is music of radiance and being. Both tracks are gorgeous, but the first and longer piece becomes the focal point. The longer it develops, the warmer it becomes, its light shining far beyond its source. That initial thumping and the reverting in on itself disappears, and its death reveals a beautiful nebula. Splashes of infinite colour are kneaded together in the stardust. Around the halfway point, an ethereal sound emerges, a halo glinting around its pulsing waves. Similar to his earlier work,Silent Night, in terms of tone and the radiance of its light, the piece then shifts once again, a constant traveler in the cosmic depths…on time, but out of time.
Jan 17 The Substation, Newport, AU
Feb 15 Pitchfork and The Art Institute of Chicago Midwinter, Chicago, IL
(The Disintegration Loops with the Chicago Philharmonic)
Feb 16 Pitchfork and The Art Institute of Chicago Midwinter, Chicago, IL
Mar 29 St. John On Bethnal Green, London, UK
Apr 11 Albert Hall, Manchester, UK