THE SIGHT BELOW: It All Falls Apart (Ghostly International) / RAFAEL ANTON IRISARRI: Reverie (Immune Recordings)
Posted on Jun 11th 2010 12:32 am
THE SIGHT BELOW
It All Falls Apart
Ghostly International 2010
07 Tracks. 49mins56secs
RAFAEL ANTON IRISARRI
Immune Recordings 2010
03 Tracks. 23mins19secs
There is fundamentally not much of a gap between the work Rafael Anton Irisarri releases under his own name and that he publishes as The Sight Below. The angle he approaches these two projects places them in very different spheres. With one, he deploys deeply atmospheric soundscapes into almost gothic compositions, while, with the other, it is towards an ethereal form of instrumental pop music and electronic shoegaze that he turns his attention to. It may be pure coincidence that two releases, one for each project, have materialised almost simultaneously, but this contributes to expose Irisarri’s range in interesting fashion. First in line is it All Falls Apart, Irisarri’s second full length release under the Sight Below brand, published on Ann Arbor, MI’s Ghostly International, a record which partly builds on the vast sonic landscapes of its predecessor. The second release, Reverie, coming under Irisarri’s own name, available as a limited edition LP and download set from Chicago, IL’s Immune Recordings, focuses on much more introverted music forms.
Whereas the majority of tracks from The Sight Below’s debut album, Glider (Ghostly, 2008) and follow-up Murmur EP, released last year, were driven by relentless minimal beats, buried deep beneath dense layers of sound, often reminiscent of Wolfgang Voigt’s Gas, this is not quite the case on It All Falls Apart. Here, the Seattle-based guitarist and producer strips most of his compositions of beats, and concentrates on vast expanses of hazy sounds, built primarily from heavily processed and layered guitar textures, instead. There are still occasional signs of the Sight Below of old, but these are few, only materialising on Through The Gaps In The Land and Burn Me Out From The Inside. This lack of groove opens up the rest of Irisarri’s sound world and reveals a level of emotion which had, until now, remained partially hidden. In this, he gets closer to his other project, but this album is ultimately rooted in abstract pop music. The beautifully crafted melody of album opener Shimmer or follow up Fervent attest of this pedigree, and this extremely tasteful treatment also informs most of the somewhat orchestral Burn Me Out From The Inside.
All the way through, Irisarri plays with slowly ebbing and flowing clair-obsure soundscapes which often evoke vast liquid stretches, especially on pieces such as Fervent or the extremely hazy and shaded cover of Joy Division’s New Dawn Fades. This is taken to a different level entirely on the thirteen minute epic Stagger, which closes the album, its sumptuous floating ambient textures, upon which interferences and subtle electronics resonate for most of the piece, is not far from evoking some of Brian Eno’s most stellar work. Textures are given a slightly less polished finish on the title track, which sees Irisarri team up with Simon Scott, who provides additional guitar and electronics.
Echoing Irisarri’s Daydreaming album, released on Miasmah three years ago, Reverie is a more austere and introspective work. Here, the guitars become sparser and step back a tad as other instruments are given more prominence; a slightly muted piano on Lit At Dawn, a much clearer one on Für Alina. On the latter, the piano is actually central to the piece, and features from the start, first alone, surrounded only by enigmatic founds sounds, then by a slowly rising tide of sound heavily clad in effects, which remains for some time just an echo in the background, but which becomes more potent in the second half. Irisarri however never quite brings this to the fore. In between though, Embraced relies much more heavily on guitars and delays, working a rather bleak backdrop on one side, and applying sparse drapes on the other.
It is quite difficult to define with precision where Rafael Anton Irisarri stands, but this contributes to give his work some of its enigmatic appeal. With The Sight Below, he stretches the boundaries of pop music to flirt with much more openly experimental angles, and this also informs his other project, but here, it is almost as if he was doing the journey in reverse, by investigating desolate territories and bringing them to life by subtle melodic touches. Whatever the case, he is proving a complete master at his art.
It All Falls Apart: 4/5 Reverie: 4.4/5
The Sight Below (MySpace) | Rafael Anton Irisarri | Rafael Anton Irisarri (MySpace) | Ghostly International | Immune Recordings
The Sight Below: Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: CD | DLD iTunes: DLD
Rafael Anton Irisarri: Amazon UK: LP US: LP Boomkat: LP
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