2-CD Re-issue; originally released on Raster-Noton, 2002.
The River is the culmination of William Basinski's shortwave music experiments. It was recorded in real time in 1983 using tape loops and shortwave radio static. The loops were all culled from the airwaves, short bits of string melody taken from the Muzak radio station, slowed down and mixed live to cassette from two '50s Norelco reel-to-reel decks with a random accompaniment of shifting shortwave radio static. 'Growing up in the '70s, with a love for the lush sound of the Mellotron, but not having the pocketbook to own one, I decided to try to create my own. I had heard that the sounds were recorded on tape loops, so I began recording small bits of lush strings from intros and interludes in Muzak songs to use as my keys. The aspect of pulling all the sounds from the airwaves, to create something from nothing, fascinated me. With these elemental, organic loops that I had saved aside for The River, I was attempting to record the music of the spheres. The 90 minute length was decried by the length of the two sides of the cassette. The idea was to have a piece which could repeat endlessly, creating an eternal, meditative womb of tranquility.'