Monday, August 9, 2010

Tiger Flower Circle Sun - Christopher Willits

Tiger Flower Circle Sun

Christopher Willits
Ghostly International.

SCQ Rating: 67%

Elusive records, oh where to begin? No one’s collection is complete without a few LPs that shun understanding and accessibility, albums you spin every few months only to relive their intrinsic novelty. No stranger to the outer limits of musical exploration, Christopher Willits’ latest effort is in many ways one of his most welcoming, full of warm tones and bristling beats, yet be warned: passing its open gates may lead to an open canvas, unfettered by passages or directions. In keeping with many of his twenty or so releases, Tiger Flower Circle Sun roams freely through organic electronica, soft glitchiness and curious dream-pop, at once everywhere and nowhere.

As with its title’s word association, Tiger Flower Circle Sun’s sequencing has grown strong thanks to Willit’s mysticism, which allows the live-drum kicking ‘Sun Body’ or choral-based ‘Green Faces’ to blossom from neighbouring ambient pieces. And while surprising turns aren’t uncommon – take the deformed folk that backs Willits’ affecting vocals on ‘Light Into Branches’ – they tend to hide out inside aurally elaborate soundscapes that steer clear of melodic arches. Sometimes these digital beds create convincing plateaus that benefit the whole, as on ‘Uplifting the Streets’ and the CD/mp3 bonus track ‘Flowers Into Stardust’, but elsewhere these instrumentals pulsate on stagnant repetition, rendering ‘The Hands Connect To the Heart’ and ‘The Heart Connects To the Head’ two cerebral codas worth passing over. Willits’ muse, both sonically and philosophically, calls to mind the catalog of White Rainbow (aka Adam Forkner), as many aspects of this release could reasonably be Forkner disassembling epic tracks down to purposeful gears that either loiter or churn out crucial tempo switches. In its fragmented form, however, Tiger Flower Circle Sun seems unwilling to unveil any trajectory or moment-of-realization. All that's epic is how lost we can become.

It’s a commendable but compromising decision to take, and Tiger Flower Circle Sun saddles the cohesive and inexplicable quite naturally. This evenness - Willits’ steady hand, if you will - ensures a collection that will confound and reward you. In my eyes, the only downside to elusive records isn’t the frustration but the initial disappointment – when nothing quite clicks and you’re tempted to move on – that sometimes abandons these mysteries before they’ve matured. Be hasty with this album at your own risk!

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