Disintegrating Loops

It’s a bit of a module-specific and elaborate setup, but one thing I’m experimenting with at the moment is using the send/return on the 4ms DLD to run the loop in and out of the computer so I can insert vst’s in the process. I specifically patched that together to try the Vulf Compressors lofi/vinyl sim in the loop. Haven’t hit the sweet spot yet but I feel like something is there.


I start off by copying the loop over and over in the same track. Then I slightly change the start or end points or both on each one, with the changes getting more noticeable the further down you go. After that I go into the follow actions on each one and adjust the probabilities of looping the same instance of the loop (Play Again) or moving down to the next one (Next). This usually takes a really long time to fine tune, getting the start and points at zero crossings, etc.

Then I send that to an effects chain with a Saturator, an EQ with a low pass filter, an echo with a tiny bit of warble and maybe some Vinyl Distortion. After that I add a bunch of very slow LFO’s, on the delay, cutoff frequency, saturation amount, the vinyl distortion frequency and maybe the density of the crackles and so on.

Problem with this method is that it’s the exact opposite of natural, you leave to do its thing of course and you get very pleasing results, but I imagine that doing it with real tape would be more satisfying. Never had access to tape though so I haven’t really tried it.


I am not exactly sure that this fits the topic in 100% but I had really good results of “destroying” input data when I was outputing encoded images from computer to audio, then I passed the audio through analog synth filters, vca etc. and decoded this again on computer.
Just a warning: the images are flickering a lot, the links are here:



And now that I think about it I probably should experiment with sending the decoded audio again through the whole process in loop (instead of sending original image again and again) and see what happens so thanks for inspiration!


Have to add another +1 for w/ on this. It’s probably my favourite use case particularly with random gates punching in silence at varying overdub/overwrite settings. I often also then punch a new piece of audio or sequence in for a reversing process or a kind of disintegrated/created crossfade. Great for live transitions or just taking a theme and destroying it.


I’ve messed around this this a little:

And also overdubbing cassette tapes onto each other X times:

One thing I found interesting when doing the endless overdubs is that the noise in the cassettes starts to act like a compressor and side-chains the source material.


Super interesting topic. Thanks for establishing!

Just a quick one for now:
I’m surprised to read a lot about saturation/compression. — To my understanding, what happened with Basinsky’s tapes was the exact opposite: expansion.

Sounds with an attack stayed intact, while the sustained ones faded away.
My immediate idea would be to attach an envelope follower to the source material and feed both through a VCA. Playing with offsets to simulate a progression …
Will experiment these days and report back …


relevant section should be directly linked here:


Analog tape loops experiment with tapedeck and walkman :


Quick test as proof of concept:
Looped sample into MI Ears. Envelope follower + CV offset into VCA. Offset reduced gradually. Mixed in some noise via ringmod, added a bit of saturation …


Inserting treatments into a delay chain could be a wider topic than just emulating tape failing… One of my fave things to do is to take a very faithful delay with no feedback and send it into a gain and whatever treatments before feeding back into the delay.


Sounds cool!

Idea: Use a field recording into Ears to trigger the envelope follower, and use this signal to either modulate the delay lines signal timbre or amplitude, also mix in a little bit of the field recording so you get cumulative noise mixed in. I might try that myself and see what gives.

I made a delay in Reaktor (based on @trickyflemming Tape Delay) that I built purposefully to get cumulative degradation type tones on delay loops. Random modulation (including tiny amounts of white noise), eq’ing and sample rate modulation got some really interesting results. I’ts definitely something I’d like to explore more with eurorack.


Hi all,
I’ve written a bit about my practice here just a few minutes ago. Sorry about the delay answering something concerning me :relaxed:

If you want to know more about it just write me here or there, I’ll be glad to answer.




Nice! Most of the credit on that goes to NI, as it’s built around a Core macro called “Tape-ish Delay”. I only really made the panel and set the control ranges. The VHS Audio Degradation Suite would be another really good starting point for building something like this (maybe toss this in a feedback path? Could be cool): https://www.native-instruments.com/en/reaktor-community/reaktor-user-library/entry/show/11003/

I wish I had some spare development time at the moment, as I think that Norns would be a perfect platform for building a loop degrader. Here are some random DSP ideas:

  • SuperCollider’s Dust would be a perfect starting point. It creates random impulses with random amplitude (unipolar or bipolar) with a Density control. I imagine that this could be used as a “Volatility” control. Whenever a trigger is fired, a certain effect could be applied to the running loop. The depth/length of the effect could be determined by impulse height, or maybe some other running random parameter.
  • For Basinski style disintegration, it’s all about taking stuff away, not adding. Two primary transformations that I would look at would be random zero-resonance band-pass filtering and waveset removal. Wavesets would be a bit too precise, as actual tape would not care about zero-crossings, but it might be faster/cleaner to implement if you don’t want clicks or an interpolated dropout sound. I added a variable waveset drop control to Dent for this type of effect, and it does sound similar to some of the artifacts on The Disintegration Loops.
  • There could be multiple modes of degradation instead of just focusing on analog tape concepts. Like the videos that @oot and @csboling posted above, there are great artifacts that appear through things like repeated mp3 encoding/decoding. I’m not sure if there’s a codec-style uGen in SuperCollider or its plugins, but you could cheat an mp3 sound using SuperCollider’s PV uGens. In SpecOps, the “mp3ify” effect is done by performing an FFT and then using a bitcrusher to reduce the precision of each bin.

Ah nice stuff!

Funnily enough the VHS Degradation Suite that you mention has my Tape Mate ensemble built in, and for that I did use an impulse generator for the Flutter section of the Wow+Flutter :+1:

After hearing Eno’s Discrete Music I was looking to build a non-synchronized dual/three channel looper, using TapeMate for the cumulative degradation side of things.


That’s hilarious! I use Tape Mate a lot, and I just didn’t put 2 and 2 together with your username. I’ve also used Patina and Guillotine. Great stuff. Gotta love how the Reaktor Library is built upon so much collaboration.


Check this out from 21:19 — You’ll hear somebody you might now (William B. :wink: ) …
The rest of the podcast is pretty cool too!

Mark Phillips: After it went around and around for 20 minutes or so, the dust started to fall off and then it sounded like this. All the notes are still there, but the tails –
Jad Abumrad: Are getting shorter.
Mark Phillips: Yeah. That’s what would always happen.
William Basinski: The sustains and decays of the notes seemed to fall away like from the back moving backwards, backwards.
Mark Phillips: It gets shorter and shorter. Instead of being held for four seconds, it’s held for three seconds, two seconds. Finally, you just really hear –
William Basinski: Like the attacks and the accents.
Mark Phillips: Just the beginnings of the notes. Only the beginning.
William Basinski: Those seem to hold on.
Mark Phillips: At least for a little while.


I guess since we’re discussing emulating disintegration, one free FFT plugin I can recommend is DtBlkFx. The spectral contrast and threshold modes are pretty similar in sound to the warble of those Napster era .mp3’s.

This made me think about more “authentic” ways to create these types of artifacts in real time. Perhaps one could run the audio through a Skype call, perhaps several connected in a chain? I’m speculating but the idea really excites me…


Goodhertz’s Lossy plugin is excellent for this work as well. They spend a lot of time and energy emulating various sources of quantization, bit reduction, filtering and jitter.


I guess if you’re talking Napster era, the “authentic” audio stream would be RealAudio. Bonus points if your stream goes via a dial-up modem.


I think this kinda qualifies: I once tried a very low-rent (and pretty silly) Lucier experiment/impersonation where I put a song clip that I particularly hated into Garageband, and then played it back through the laptop’s speakers while recording with the internal microphone (recording track unmonitored to prevent feedback, of course). I then rinsed and repeated until it sounded less bad.