I’m not exactly sure why, but during the pandemic, I became slightly obsessed with The Disintegration Loops, the experimental set of albums created by avant-garde composer William Basinski back in the early 2000s.
The albums document the slow deterioration of a set of tape loops, which had been damaged when Basinski attempted to transfer them to a digital format. The sounds are haunting, ceaseless and unnerving, but I found peace in their eerie monotony.
I’ve discovered the same kind of tranquility listening to Adapter, the upcoming album from Ohr, the moniker of San Francisco-based musician George Cory Todd. Like Basinski’s works, Adapter, which debuts today on SF Weekly and is set for wide release on Friday, is full of dreamy, somnambulant tracks — wordless reveries of glitchy electronica and gauzy synths. The album is more dynamic than the slow moaning of The Disintegration Loops, but Adapter has the same ability to remove the listener from their environs, to transport them to a languid place bereft of the clanging and clacking of everyday life.
Beyond its relationship to ambient composers like Basinski, Adapter shares a kinship with other IDM pioneers, mirroring the blurry beats of Boards of Canada and the expansive, murky movements of Endless Summer-era Fennesz.
The proposition of art-as-escape has always been fraught — you don’t want to be so sonically doped up that you lose your connection with the world — but it certainly feels good to drift away on an undulating sea of delta waves.Adapter sounds may be distant but its effects are immediate, and that reflects the best kind of ambient music — otherworldly and fantastical, yet ultimately lucid and life-affirming.