Rafael Anton Irisarri: Reverie

Reverie: never was a recording more aptly titled. One could also think of it as the beatless counterpart to the music Rafael Anton Irisarri issues under the alias The Sight Below. Not that they're mutually exclusive, however—a similar sensitivity to textural detail is heard in both cases, and Irisarri's primary instrument, the electric guitar, is used as a textural soundscaping generator as much as it is a vehicle for voicing melody. Reverie, the follow-up to 2009's Hopes and Past Desires (also on Immune) and 2007's Daydreaming full-length on Miasmah, includes three tracks, the first two modest in length, the third a fourteen-minute meditation. The style is ambient soundscaping and the mood ponderous, as Irisarri uses his guitar as a strings-like symphonic element to generate atmospheric masses.

Wrapped in a blanket of omnipresent hiss, “Lit A Dawn” couples elegiac swathes of guitar haze and the sparsest piano melody imagineable into five heavenly minutes. Speckled with tiny bits of static and grime, “Embraced” blossoms like an ambient symphony recording that's been rescued from attic entombment after half a century. In the longest piece, Irisarri's interpretation of Arvo Pärt's “Für Alina,” the focus on piano and textural grime at the outset aligns it more to Library Tapes than to The Sight Below. Gradually the guitar textures appear to form a sombre counterpart to the wistful piano explorations, but even then the spotlight remains most of all on the piano playing. In all, it's beautiful stuff by Irisarri and a natural complement to It All Falls Apart, his recent venture under The Sight Below name. Just as it finds that project's style gravitating in a more ambient soundscaping direction, so too does Reverie. If anything, it's an even more full-bore embrace of the soundscaping genre.

March 2010