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The work of Seattle based sound artist, composer and multi-instrumentalist Rafael Anton Irisarri delves into immersive explorations of dense layers of sound, incorporating a minimalist subtlety in conjunction with an enveloping approach to audio processing. Over the past five or so years Irisarri, under his own name and also as The Sight Below, has forged an individual aural aesthetic through the use of drones, processing, heavy use of reverb and a nod to contemporary classical sounds. Over this time, Irisarri has performed across North America and Europe whilst releasing music on labels including Thrill Jockey, Ghostly International, ROOM40 and Miasmah. Of his compositional methods, Irisarri confirms this, saying that “I’m working from a classical and post-minimalist foundation” when creating beds of sound for his works.
Adding to his already significant back catalogue, Irisarri has completed a new recording created in time for his upcoming debut Australian tour. Titled The North Bend, Irisarri explains that the album is inextricably linked with the aesthetic and imagery of the Pacific Northwest region of the United States, where he resides.
“The record is inspired by this region, and not just with the fairly obvious ‘rainy, gloomy skies’ clichés, but more in the folk, cultural traditions and pop-culture references (think of David Lynch and his television-defining narrative Twin Peaks). They sort of helped me create an audio postcard of this beautiful area of the United States.”
An accomplished manipulator of abstract and melodic textures, Irisarri goes on to describe the compositional and artistic rationale and development of The North Bend, saying that “from a performance and compositional standpoint, the album itself is a progression from my prior works, mostly replacing the focus on the piano in favour of electronic manipulation of samples (either my own playing or from old classical vinyl records) and guitar playing. In fact, it barely contains any piano, only one track has a piano melody, and it is not even in the forefront, more of a textural melodic element in the background. Aside, I’ve continued to develop my guitar bowing techniques, furthering my palette and helping me craft new musical vocabulary in the process.