Magic! William Basinski at Le Poisson Rouge “The Last Symphony”

In October  2018 Basinski played On Time/ Out of Time as a fundraiser for The OutPost*. He presided as an almost motionless High Priest (he says High Priestess) and led the audience into deep space. It was extraordinary.

At Le Poisson Rouge, he came onto the stage as a drag queen with a deep Texas twang, fussing over his instruments—which I think he called his “dolls and dishes”? and said “I just got to warn you honey, this ain’t no sleepytime ambient show as I would normally do” and the audience erupted in cheers and whistles.

He started the music, struck a series of poses, he embraced the air— I was in awe that he would change his persona that much—what successful artist does that? I wondered if it was a bit corny?… and then I was gone somewhere wonderful, wide awake, eyes glued on Basinski’s strange dance—for an indeterminate amount of time.

Basinski was dancing, but it wasn’t quite dancing—he was anticipating and creating the music with his movements.

I know there were singing voices—I think they were asking questions.

There were sequences that flowed and others that were abrupt and staccato. At times, Basinski seemed to peer into the audience in a birdlike way. I went into a world of memories and images I cannot describe until I began to notice that the sound was lowering and slowing. I came to and looked around.

From this point on, I’ll call him Billy because he was my upstairs neighbor for 20 years in a building with no sound insulation. At all. I knew he had something but how could I know he was a genius? Aside from the noise I didn’t grasp the point of capturing the buzz of air conditioners or thinking about how the hum of fluorescent lights changes sound in the room to name two things he talked about.

After On Time… , I asked Billy what he was thinking about while performing and he simply said “I am sending love into the audience.” This time I asked how he dared to present himself so differently and he said, “ I trust the audience to accept me.”

Love and Trust and I absolutely believe him, I’m thinking about trying that myself.

These words are inadequate, the clips I am showing don’t capture the experience…


And also here’s some great footage from LPR that includes the opening monologue:

William Basinski at Le Poisson Rouge

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