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Taylor Deupree/Christopher Willits - Invisible Architecture #08

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Artist: Taylor Deupree/Christopher Willits

Album: Invisible Architecture #08

Label: Audiosphere

Review date: Feb. 2, 2004

The guitar, since the advent of rock music, and even before, has always been an instrument with a signature sound. Even with Dave Davies’ supposed invention of distortion by putting holes in his amp’s speaker cones, and the more recent proliferation of oddball effects and modeling gear, there’s still a sense of familiarity to almost any guitarist’s sound. There have been exceptions to this rule, however. AMM’s Keith Rowe, an originator of table-top guitar and extended technique on the guitar, has been redefining the instrument’s palette of sounds since the middle of the 1960s. People like Fred Frith, Kevin Drumm, and Hans Reichel have all taken their own direction in non-traditional guitar music, and, more recently, the number of guitarists who’ve struck out on similarly distinctive courses has clearly grown. San Francisco’s Chris Willits is another of the contemporary crop of guitar innovators. A former student at Mills College, his trademark “folded” guitar sound involves the use of processing software to transform his playing in real time, creating glitchy, melodic waves of music that sounds unquestionably electronic and alien when compared to a six-string’s usual output.

Willits’ solo debut, Folding, and the Tea, was released by Taylor Deupree’s 12K imprint in late 2002, and the collaboration between the two began after a performance at the party held to celebrate the disc’s release. The two set out to make a studio recording almost immediately. Willits’ guitar was fed through both his usual processing, and, subsequently, electronically re-sculpted through Deupree’s system. The tracks were later edited between San Francisco and Brooklyn, and, with the addition of one live recording each from the November concert, released as the eighth disc in Sub Rosa’s Audiosphere imprint’s Invisible Architecture series.

Invisible Architecture #08 is an interesting collaboration, in that it contains music recorded by Deupree and Willits as a duo, but also solo tracks from each musician, allowing the listener the chance to more easily recognize the nature of the collaboration and how the musical styles of the performers meld into one. In some instances, the ebb and flow of the music creates a viscous, slowly swirling background for smaller synthesized sounds with a warm ambience that is responsible for much of the disc’s relaxed feel. Miniature sound happenings abound, sometimes crystalline bubbles that seem to float on the ocean of sound, or short tones of differing pitches which form slow rhythm progressions upon which are layered a thin film of glitches and fizzles. Though never static, the album tends to move at a slow pace, simmering rather than boiling. An almost tender beauty emanates from much of the album, and though its music is decidedly synthetic, it resonates in a way that feels warm and natural, and, most of all, comfortable. The collaborative dynamic between Deupree and Willits makes it hard to believe that this is their first record together, as the interplay between their sounds is smooth and almost seamless.

Hopefully, Invisible Architecture #08 will be the beginning of a longer collaborative relationship between Taylor Deupree and Christopher Willits, because the results of their first work together are, for the most part, positively beautiful.

By Adam Strohm

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