Boomkat Product Review:
A brand new album from one of the most acclaimed ambient composers of our time, Vivian & Ondine takes the form of a single, three-quarter hour piece, once again constructed from Basinski's signature style of tape loop manipulation.
While the narrative ebb and flow is largely pinned to a single tape fragment, Basinski merged a further "dozen or so" that sunk into the mix in just the right way, adding to the aura of fluctuation and continuous evolution that's essential to his work. The central theme that repeats its way through the track sounds ancient, played out by what you can only presume to have once been a string ensemble. Possibly the first ever string ensemble, given the copious amounts of dust and debris caked on top of the recording.
This looped phrase carries elegiac clout, taking on a funereal quality (though contrastingly, the title, Vivian & Ondine, is actually a dedication to the birth of two new members of Basinski's extended family) and carrying with it deep-running undercurrents presided over by an almost visceral sense of sadness.
Further careful listening is rewarded by subtle shifts beneath the surface of the loops, only faintly making themselves apparent. One of the more prominent of these arrives just after the twenty-seven minute mark: you hear worn-out, bell-like sounds glistening through all the crumbing decay, like clock chimes wafting in from far off. Small gestures like these probably don't sound much like big payoff moments on paper, but in the context of Basinski's stately and patient sonic universe such things count for a lot.