Review of Ocean Fire [12k1046]

Big Shot (US)

This disc is an ocean fire alright; and on an oil spill at that. No, it’s not a disaster, but it’s hard to see the edges, and before you knot it, the flames have been absorbed by the water, leaving some residual ash on the crest of a few waves.

We imagine working with Ryuichi Sakamoto involves moments that are like telling your grandmother you don’t want to eat her cooking. While Christopher Willits tries to infuse his beachy guitar ambience into the chill out legend’s defigeur orchestration, the young one yields a bit too much to his elder. The results are plain tepid, living up to neither Sakamoto’s best work nor Willits’ fantastic 2006 Ghostly debut, Surf Boundaries. Some tracks are lovely, notably the opener “Toward Water,” and the duo’s common interest in not just computers but water is evident. Willits sounds more like executive producer than actual co-producer with Sakamoto; and we can’t imagine that was his original intention. Ultimately, the ambition here was simply the collaboration. Surely the experience of working together was fortifying for each in different ways, but Ocean Fire is an example of when someone who doesn’t compete for the spotlight really should.

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