Opening is multimedia artist Christopher Willits' third solo outing for venerable electronic label Ghostly International. The San Francisco-based musician's warm experimental fare has shifted subtly from record to record, often radiating with a strong visual imagery, but Opening takes this a step further, blending seven new expansive ambient pieces with 45 minutes of corresponding video which he captured during four years of travel throughout Japan, Thailand, Hawaii, and California. Additionally, there is a limited-edition photographic print available for each track with all of the various elements tying into his multi-sensory live performances for the album. Prior to this, Willits was last heard collaborating with Japanese pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto on 2012's Ancient Future as well as adding his production skills to labelmate Tycho's 2014 album Awake. Musically, the supple, dreamlike tones of Opening have far more in common with Tycho's pastoral summer hues than with Willits' moody Sakamoto collaboration. Mysterious, yet unwaveringly optimistic, the songs have a direct relationship to the wide vistas and images of the natural world which accompany them. In the past Willits has experimented with shoegaze-like pop themes and off-kilter found sounds, but here the music is much more subtle and tranquil yet filled with distinct layers. "Vision" drifts by in four-and-a-half minutes of vaporous beauty, giving way to the slightly denser "Clear," with its distant guitar tones and deep, harmonic thrum. The album's more obvious rhythmic movements are few and far between, relying instead on a gentle water and wind-like flow which again ties into the overall natural theme. Pulsing basslines and faint grooves do appear in tracks like "Wide" and "Connect" but are generally mixed low enough so as not to become the focus. Even without the visuals, Opening is a lovely piece of music full of finely tuned ambience and an inviting purity with frequencies that are almost meditative.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger