RAFAEL ANTON IRISARRI

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American multi-instrumentalist Rafael Anton Irisarri is one of today’s foremost ambient composers, creating oceanic symphonies with tape loops, bowed electric guitar and vast washes of overdriven sound. Over the years, he has become ubiquitous within the spheres of ambient, drone and electronic music. Whether it’s through Irisarri’s celestial long-form albums or his lauded audio engineering credentials for countless artists and labels, irisarri’s consistent dedication to his craft never wavers from the forefront. His most recent album for Dais, ‘Peripeteia’ (a sudden reversal of change in circumstances) embraces the far banks of dark ambient terrain—culling fragments made from dust, debris, field recordings, and stretched sonic time capsules whilst creating the soundtrack to these strange times of 2020.

A prolific sound engineer, Irisarri has worked with the likes of Ryuichi Sakamoto, Julianna Barwick, Grouper, Telefon Tel Aviv, and dozens of other artists at New York’s legendary Black Knoll Studio. In 2015, Irisarri was tasked by Portland’s Beacon Sound to remaster for vinyl two of legendary minimalist composer Terry Riley classic albums “Descending Moonshine Dervishes” (1982) and “Songs for the Ten Voices of the Two Prophets” (1983). In 2016, he engineered oscar-winning composer Ryuichi Sakamoto’s ‘Glass’ album, a collaboration between the esteemed Japanese maestro and influential german sound artist Alva Noto. It was recorded on location at Philip Johnson‘s iconic The Glass House in Connecticut and released in 2018 to much critical praise. In 2019, Irisarri mastered ambient artist Eluvium’s “Pianoworks” for Temporary Residence. the album debuted simultaneously at #1 on the billboard classical and billboard new age.

Throughout the mid-00’s, he worked as a curator for Seattle’s legendary Decibel Festival, focusing on the ambient, leftfield techno and experimental curatorial. As the new decade rolled in, Irisarri started in 2011 his own music festival, Substrata – the first event of its kind in North America. Held at a converted chapel in a quiet residential neighborhood, the critically-acclaimed intimate event was responsible for breaking in the pacific northwest new artists working in the modern classical field (Nils Frahm, Jacaszek, Christina Vantzou, to name a few), and bringing to american shores influential artists, such as the late Mika Vainio and artic ambient pioneer Biosphere

After signing with Ghostly International in 2008 and releasing Glider (his debut album as The Sight Below), Irisarri started traveling frequently to perform live throughout the world. His concerts at museums, churches, synagogues, and other non-traditional performance spaces explore the physicality of sound. Combining an array of heavy metal bass amplifiers, multiple loudspeaker configurations, synthesizers, bowed guitars, notebook computers, video images, and lighting, Irisarri decontextualizes the audience’s relationship to the venue, creating an immersive, otherworldly environment. Throughout the last decade, Irisarri has been commissioned for performances at prestigious international festivals like Sónar (Spain), Mutek (canada), MiTo (Italy), Todaysart (the Netherlands), Gamma (Russia), Dark Mofo (Tasmania), and Unsound (Poland).

“it is a beautiful storm that breaks with choirs of benevolent ghosts singing – before slowly setting the audience back on the ground, surprisingly better rested, more contemplative, and satisfied than before… leaving the silence he induced, in absolute applause.” KEXP (USA)

“Irisarri’s albums often seem to channel the energy of a thunderstorm: they’re heavy, gray, and gloomy, yet ultimately replenishing, and can be downright rapturous, depending on the circumstances. ‘Peripeteia’ continues in the vein of past triumphs like ‘A Fragile Geography,’ but it’s bolder and more immediate, pulling frayed melodies closer into focus, and revealing darker emotional depths. His compositions flow in vast, sorrowful waves, slowly stirring and gathering distortion until the listener is engulfed.” All Music 4.5/5 stars (United States)

”Rafael Anton Irisarri paints storming seas on small post cards. Vast powerful, sweeping motifs in single portions. Power and chaos within frames of the golden standards exact proportions.’Peripeteia’ is most likely his best recording so far. Everything fits together here. Every part exactly where it’s supposed to be. And there’s something with the melodies. Simply put they’re very beautiful.” – Gaffta Magazine 5/6 stars (Sweden)

“Irisarri is unafraid to use his mastery of the wordless soundscape to put forth messages that reflect the bleak and uncompromising times we’re living in. Yet his solo efforts and collaborations aren’t feel-bad listens so much as they are utterly cathartic, finding beauty in torn up digital landscapes. there is assuredly a sense of dread that shapes ‘Peripeteia’ that has always been present in Irisarri’s work but never so prominently featured. Waves of distortion get lost in echo chambers, with walls of white noise soon fading into pink and then into saturated blood red. It is a blistering ambient piece full of tension and release. Its stark tone is reflected in the song titles, with tracks being named “Between the Negative Voids” and “Vanishing Points” as a way to set the listener up for a listening experience that’s brutal and beautiful.” Popmatters (United States)

“Bowed guitar and electronics, like a bit louder, dark and almost endless melancholy? That can only be Rafael Anton Irisarri. It is almost absurd to sarcastic to see the consistent quality with which the New Yorker slips off his boots. ‘Peripeteia’ is again, always incredibly painfully beautiful drone-ambience, which really leaves no questions unanswered. Exactly as always. Exactly brilliant great.” Groove (Germany)

”In the end of 2020 ’Peripeteia’ could well be and album that have helped others through the trials we are currently facing in some shape or form. The album gives expression for the uncertainty and grief that define the year. Like a depiction of the end of the world in a way that feels more inviting rather than frightening” – Sydsvenskan (Sweden)

“In tune with the regularity that defines him, he once again finished a remarkable album. Of course, a small difference. Perhaps the best one he has published in recent years. Themes such as ‘Fright and Control‘ are an example of the abilities that his compositions exude and exude, a melancholic haze that later intensifies, exalting the noise on the surface. Exciting once again.” Hipersónica (Spain)