Boomkat Product Review:
The latest microsound superstar to notch up a collaboration with Ryuichi Sakamoto is the excellent Christopher Willits, whose solo discography to date has seen him recording for a good number of experimental electronic music's most influential labels, most notably 12k and Fällt, through which he has released his two finest works: Folding, And The Tea and Pollen, respectively. Since then Willits has appeared on all the right compilations (last year's excellent Airport Symphony, for example) and embarked upon a series of collaborations with Taylor Deupree. Sakamoto almost certainly requires no introduction, with a recent run of collaborations that cements his position as one of modern music's most vibrant creative forces: first with Alva Noto, then Fennesz, and now with comparative newcomer Willits. Each of these duos has set out its own discreet musical agenda, and in the case of 'Ocean Fire' the focus is drone. Inevitably, that's a gross generalisation of what this record is about, but while albums like 'Cendre' and 'Vrioon' have featured a pronounced instrumental presence, and a very tangible sense of where one artist's contribution ends and the other's begins, this set of recordings is markedly more mysterious and amorphous. 'Toward Water' ushers in a tide of muffled tones, arcing with a grand, panoramic trajectory comparable to that of a Tim Hecker composition, and importantly, offering a similarly high level of detail and grain beneath the surface. Adding texture to these vast sonic nebulae is Willits' distinctive brand of granular synthesis, 'folding' stretches of sound into pleated, glitch-punctuated compartments. This evokes some wonderfully luxurious textures on 'Sea Plains', whose opening four minutes sounds like a strong breeze blowing raindrops against a windowpane. As it progresses, the album ultimately embraces a hazier feel, coloured by a more traditional interpretation of ambient music, as it approaches it's second half, with the motion blur dynamics of 'Ocean Sky Remains' seemingly melting away any sense of time, continually dissolving and reshaping over the course of a formless eleven minutes. Absolutely gorgeous - ESSENTIAL PURCHASE!