. issue XIX : v .

by barathron

. artist : christopher willits .
. album : breathe (in seven sections) .
. year : 2004
. label : ghostly international .
. grade : a .


Breathe (In Seven Sections) is one-third of an avant-garde compilation, SMM Vol. 2, out on Ghostly International. This portion — by that electroacoustic genius of mussed theory and hair, Christopher Willits — is a manifestation of naked beauty. The polyrhythmic, distorted, contrapuntal nature of Willits’ work is a surprise at first, but, as song-by-song the work ripens processually (with well-placed ellipses, interjections that wrap-around, and fraught transitions), Breathe begins to cohere and inhere for the listener.

The standout, “Fountain,” manifests a unique lounge attitude, a recumbent spiritualism that evokes both the credulousness of Reading Rainbow and the soothing ‘cool’ of German cars with heated seats. It also manages to be active and at peace, jazzy-frenetic and jazzy-suave, and verdant, recalling the sight of green leafy light and the smell of healthy dirt. Willits’ guitar soars with little grace notes in the distorted croon of its melody — which sounds more like a hermaphroditic tropical bird than a guitar. It’s also got plenty of hippity-hop, a spunk evoked by clicks and claps, hand snaps, “tips and taps.”

For all the unpredictable skittering that this record does, it sure is relentlessly hypnotic. The burbles, claps and runs that Willits creates jitter happily in their motions of life, bearing gifts of rich tone color — with a bias toward ‘sunny’ — and a reverence so translucent that its impossible not to be affected. With a chipper attitude that unfolds into buoyant bliss, the listener who surrenders to Breathe discovers an utterly guileless experiential gem, where naïve meets wise in a stunning openness.

by Brittany Tracy