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Willits + Hill + Guests = Flossin = Cosmic MP3

It’s always refreshing and rewarding to hear a musician forcefully push his or her limits, especially limits as to what listeners have come to expect. Flossin provides laptop-enabled guitarist Christopher Willits an opportunity to do just that. The duo features Willits and drummer Zach Hill doing up what they call “cosmic rock/noise/jazz/free improv,” which is a fitting description. A new EP, Serpents, has recently been released (more info at overlap.org). Also on the album are Matmos, Nate Boyce, and Carson McWhirterm, and remixes by Wobbly, Brad Laner (Willits’s partner in North Valley Subconscious Orchestra, and a former Savage Republic member), and Strategy.

A track off the album has been made available for free download: “Crystal Cobra” (MP3) is a heady psychedelic ride, almost 10 minutes of pulsing, pounding, flailing post-melodic rock.

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In classic music arithmetic, it sounds on first listen like a proggy mashup of Santana and Tangerine Dream, or like Robert Fripp fronting the Grateful Dead — all wailing six-string above a bed of discordant, tumultuous rhythms, notes bent with a nod toward the histrionic. It’s a long way from the digital manipulation that’s been the hallmark of Willits’s solo work for years. Better known for metrically ambiguous, glistening solo guitar, he here lets loose like might not have been previously imaginable. It isn’t just that he’s clearing his head — he clears ours, too.

More on Willits at christopherwillits.com, and on Hill at myspace.com/zachhillmusic. I interviewed Willits back in 2006 (“The Drifter”).

By Marc Weidenbaum

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