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Christopher Willits
Plants and Hearts

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

December 5, 2007
Christopher Willits is one of those enigmatic individuals who can seemingly morph between distinct guises in an instant. One minute he's dropping sumptuous, downbeat electronica for the hip Ghostly International label, the next he's dabbling with the post-classical meanderings of Japanese composer Ryuchi Sakamoto. Circle back to the fall of 2007 and it is Aussie imprint Room40's turn for the privilege of presenting Willits' latest works to the world. In line with Room40's limited edition series, Plants and Hearts incorporates a single track, albeit one that spans an impressive 20-odd minutes. Indeed, Willits is in good companyin the Room40 stable, with some past contributors to the series including Taylor Deupree and Richard Chartier. Purists with a nose turned up to anything other than such big names won't get far doubting Willits' credentials, as it is clear from the first few flickers of sound that he was well schooled to table Plants and Hearts.

And a schooling is what the release would be, if educating listeners meant sticking to the recent past and playing it straightforward and safe. The solitary track on display is remarkably simple; perhaps "micro-scape" would be an apt expression. Willits' guitar shimmers between chords, building and dissolving as it forages about the aural spectrum, bringing to mind Stars of the Lid at their least conscious. The variation is minimal, but Plants and Hearts is not about immediacy in the same way as Surf Boundaries - released last year by Detroit's Ghostly International - but rather shares more in common with ambient music than vaguely dance-compatible electronica. Plants and Hearts is a slow-moving wander, breathing life into the simplest of sounds and allowing it free range to move as it wishes.

Christopher Willits has a musical compulsion that clearly yearns for diversity, and Plants and Hearts is a product of this. This neat little release may be the most straightforward output we'll hear from Willits, but it'll also likely be the most refined. Those of us already acquainted with Surf Boundaries will be hoping that more expansive material from Willits isn't far from seeing the light of day, but will be more than satisfied if he continues to drop dapper little experiments like Plants and Hearts while his ideas churn.

Reviewed by Mike Wright
A staff writer based in London, England, Mike Wright is eternally troubled by the American bastardization of the English language.

See other reviews by Mike Wright



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