For their second collaborative release (following Untitled 1-3), these two composers who work in very different, but musically complementary realms have created a single, 45 minute work that makes for the perfect blend of light and shadow, clear and haze, with the album artwork making for a perfect metaphor for the sound within.
The first collaboration between these two involved them reworking each other's archival materials and unfinished works at various stages of completion, but Aurora Liminalis is a completely fresh work made up of new materials. The two may work together brilliantly, but their backgrounds are diametrically opposite: Chartier is a self-taught artist who draws heavily from synthetic sources and DSP processing, while Basinski has a classically trained background and prefers to work with magnetic tape and other less than perfect analog equipment. However, the differences complement each other perfectly, pairing organic warmth and digital precision throughout.
At times a warm, rich analog tone is stretched out to infinity, with all the imperfections of the dated technology, only to then be paired with carefully modulated digital interference and squeaky static fragments. During other moments, clinically precise buzzing square waves are mixed with fuzzy, inconsistent bits of tape hiss.
One thing Basinski and Chartier do share is an ear for the subtle and an avoidance of overbearing sonic bombast, and that is clearly reflected here. From the waves of tone to delicate crystalline fragments of static, everything remains hushed and distant, but never so much that it becomes the aural equivalent of wallpaper. Instead it demands attention and focus. The changes are subtle, but extremely effective: a mystical drone off in the distance is too dramatic to ignore, and the occasionally percussive pop or click makes for a forceful change, without being intrusive or overly disruptive.
The constant flow and shift is like the passage of light, at times bringing in a glorious, glowing warmth, while other times casting shadows and creating ghostly apparitions that may or may not be present. The result is a brilliant collaboration that comes across as unique entries in both artists' discographies, not sounding completely like either but bearing both of their marks perfectly.
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