Willits + Sakamoto, Ancient Future

Lee Smith

By Lee Smith

on 08.13.12 in Reviews

The second pairing of prolific Californian experimentalist Christopher Willits and venerated composer Ryuichi Sakamoto explores lush, beatless textures framed by fleeting whispers of jazz, electronic and modern classical music. Sakamoto is no stranger to collaborations with younger electronic musicians, and Ancient Future inhabits territory similar to his work with contemporary ambient hero Fennesz. In Willits’s hands, though, the compositions take on lighter, subtler hues. Based on six original piano sketches by Sakamoto, the post-production applies swathes of atmospheric fuzz to create hypnotic and vaguely haunting music that defies recent ambient trends for ominous drones and morose melodrama.

A brief but beguiling meander through experimental music’s more plaintive fringes

The unpredictable key shifts of opener “Reticent Reminiscence” should be unsettling, but the pace is so gentle their elegant lurches feel comforting instead. It’s the same with the wintry echoes and dissonant chords of “Abandoned Silence.” More conventionally, “I Don’t Want To Understand” swaddles Sakamoto’s piano in blissed-out waves of melody, before veering into blanker, more abstract territory with “Levitation” and “Releasing.” Closing track “Completion” is less electronic than the rest, delicately balancing introspective melancholy and smooth, jazz-flecked serenity. Concise and carefully structured – the album clocks in at just 32 minutes, but never feels rushed – Ancient Future quietly immerses you in its world, offering a brief but beguiling meander through experimental music’s more plaintive fringes.