News & Reviews
Bay Area’s Christopher Willits, Ryuichi Sakamoto team up for ‘Ocean
Edited Press Release
Christopher Willits and Ryuichi Sakamoto’s
new release, "Ocean Fire," is a sublime soundtrack for the ocean. It is
an intense and stirring wash of cascading tones and textured harmony.
Willits + Sakamoto surprise with rare form in this collaboration,
creating a sound world unlike anything they have produced previously.
Each artist has
gently pulled the other into new sonic territory. Sakamoto’s gorgeous
processed piano sound reflects Willits’ beautiful shimmering clusters
of notes, a new aspect of Willits’ pioneering guitar/computer approach.
Together, their sounds merge effortlessly, creating deep and seamless
swells of gigantic melodic waves.
Sakamoto is a living legend in music. His numerous releases in Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO), and
his Grammy Award-winning solo work has inspired two generations of fans
Christopher Willits is a young talented artist who has shown he can do
just about anything. In the late-nineties Willits began integrating his
guitar playing with unique custom digital processing, and has since
been instrumental in redefining the sound palette of the guitar.
Overlapping all forms of music, sound, and visual art, Willits’ work
defies genre and retains a presence of its own.
Ocean Fire, slated for released February 12 on 12K Recordings, was
recorded live at Sakamoto’s New York City studio. The improvisations
found their final form through some further editing in the months to
come, and final mastering by Clayx in Berlin.
About Ryuichi Sakamoto
Ryuichi Sakamoto has made a career of crossing musical and
technological boundaries. A founding member of Yellow Magic Orchestra
(YMO), Sakamoto has composed original scores for 20 films, including:
Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence and The Last Emperor, which earned him an
Oscar and a Grammy. Sakamoto’s recent releases include collaborations
with Alva Noto (Insen) and Christian Fennesz, (Cendre).
Sakamoto recently reunited with Yellow Magic Orchestra for one
performance at Al Gore’s Live
Earth festival last July in Kyoto. Rolling Stone magazine called YMO’s
performance the best reunion of the global festival.
Sakamoto is socially active, raising awareness about issues including
the environment and anti-war efforts through projects including: Life,
Zero Landmine, which raised millions of dollars for landmine removal,
and stop-rokkasho, an evolving music and art project aimed at bringing
attention to the dangers of a nuclear reprocessing plant which opened
About Christopher Willits
Christopher Willits has been instrumental in redefining the guitar in
the digital age. Using custom-built software, Willits morphs his guitar
playing into warm folded rhythms of texture and melody. Named "the
center cell of a complex indie rock-avant-garde-electronic art Venn
diagram in the Bay Area" (San Francisco Bay Guardian), and "The Picasso
of Sound" (Tokafi Magazine), Willits defies genre distinctions while
still defining a sound of his own. His guitar lines fold and weave into
each other creating complex patterns of interlocking rhythm, melody,
and texture. With over 15 music releases over the last seven years,
Willits’s passion is obvious.
2006 marked the release of Surf Boundaries a critically acclaimed wash
of Willits’ guitars and vocal harmonies on the incandescent Ghostly
International label. In addition to his solo work, a vast range of
music collaborations, sound installations, and film/video projects
compel him. His band project Flossin
involves Zach Hill, Kid606, Nate Boyce,
and Matmos. The North Valley Subconscious Orchestra
is Willits and Brad Laner,
formerly of Medicine. Other
frequent collaborators include Scott
Pagano, Taylor Deupree, and Ryuichi Sakamoto.
Willits’ numerous releases and collaborative projects cover a broad
spectrum of musical styles, and include one main commonality: Willits’
unique approach to the guitar and sound. Willits completed his Master’s
Degree in Electronic Music at Mills College where he studied with Pauline Oliveros and Fred Frith. Prior to Mills, Willits
focused on painting, video art, and sound art and music at the Kansas
City Art Institute. In addition to all of this, Willits recently
founded and currently directs the emerging culture hub of releases,
events, and sharing at Overlap.org.
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