William Basinski’s newest creature consists of a main loop, restated for approximately 45 minutes and subjected (this time just slightly) to the consumption process that defines his well-known glories. The fragment is, as expected, heartbreaking: an orchestral sample repeated ad infinitum, perhaps taken from a slowed-down segment of muzak. The composer owns a conspicuous collection of recordings of that genre, whose shreds are utilized to give birth to these immaterial spells, helping us to look at an altered kind of perpetuity.
What for this writer remains fundamental is to stress how this artist has managed to achieve an accurate symbolization of infinity through something that instead is corroded, tarnished, progressively losing bits and pieces in a complete disfiguration of the original meaning. The beauty deriving from the tussle between the idea of a reiterative sequence and the decay of material things is absolutely inexplicable, alone worth of hours of reflection. The fact that the Los Angeles-based Texan manages, each and every time, to strike gold by choosing the perfect cycle, the ideal tonality, the ultimate intensity for his nebulous arias, is just one of the many mysteries surrounding another timeless question: what separates those who break new grounds (and everyone’s heart) via the turning round of a single figure from the Lexicon-endowed wannabes producing massive outputs of pitiful waste?
A correct answer might be “the heart itself”. This gentleman is a luminous character who never gave a damn about placing himself distant from what he actually comes from and is always open to any discussion, willing to explore different ambits. However, Basinski refuses to change for the sake of it, remaining anchored to basic principles which, in art and especially in life, define a human being’s overall value. Vivian & Ondine – dedicated to two infant nieces of his, who came to this earth almost simultaneously while the music was being conceived – is in that sense another splendid contradiction, a homage to youth and potential development – and the hope for a brighter future – pictured by an amassment of grey clouds symbolizing a past that doesn’t want to know of going away, still burdening the deepest consciousness, intensely affecting our memories until the very end.