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CD Feature/ Christopher Willits: "Plants and Hearts"

img  Tobias

When Christopher Willits returned from a long tour through Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Thailand in early August, he greeted everyone who attended one of his concerts in a heartfelt note on his personal website. After this moving statement, which again demonstrated the utter dedication the Bay-Area based guitarist holds towards his profession and passion, he has now turned those words into something immediately tangible: “Plants and Hearts” is released on Australia’s “Room 40” Records and can be seen as an audible “thank you” card – as well as an endearing and  daring experiment.

Comprised of a single track of twentyone minutes, the EP sees Willits dive into the fields of relaxing brainwave patterns, meditative states as well as “4hz isochronic pulses” and should ideally be listened to with the blinds down and a candle lit. Essentially, Willits operates with a mere two constituent factors: Frequency and pitch. The former acts as an organic notion of movement and an inner rhythm to stretches of monochordal drones. While resting in one key, the music develops solely through the attack and decay of its tonal lines and the constant manipulation of the basic pulse. Willits contracts fastly swinging echos into almost complete stasis and warms up frozen icicles to form brimming, vibrant soundscapes. In intermittant intervals, he adjusts the pitch, leading the listener into a new harmonic cabinet in which the same procedure is repeated. In unison with the inspiring brain-massage of the undulating waves, this pattern develops an incomparable tranquility and peace already contained as a seed within the very first seconds. At the heart of such a warm and pleasantly vertiginous music lies a remarkably constructed recording technique. Using mid-side recording technique, the main microphone (which essentially captures the guitar, while an ambiant mic will register spatial noises) was constantly turned to the left and the right in short, persistent intervals. Each position comes with a slightly different reception with regards to timbre, the “air” between the instrument and the taping device as well as the frequential phase. The mechanism as such is therefore responsible for the spinning and spiraling sensation caused by “Plants and Hearts”. If you think of it as musical Cubism, then Christopher Willits must be the Picasso of sound.

Even more significantly, and probably completely unconsciously, the work asks yet another question. While it has long been known that the same musical motive can take on different meanings within various keys, it now seems the same can be true for rhythm. Each frequency seems to establish a new effect as the piece changes its ground tone. Is it an illusion? If so, it is an incredibly persuasive one. In any case, for such a reduced and minimal work to explore so many intriguing topics and open up fresh perspectives, the “thank you” now has to go back to Christopher Willits again.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Christopher Willits
Homepage: Room40 Records

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