Rafael Anton Irisarri
Rafael Anton Irisarri is a multi-instrumentalist record producer and mastering engineer living in New York. Described by Drowned In Sound (UK) as one of contemporary ambient music’s most celebrated practitioners, Irisarri's music often has a mournful, elegiac quality where ostinato phrases tap into minimalist ideals while atmospheric layers of effects suggests a more cinematic approach. In all, his compositions are deeply emotive and epic, like a symphony recording that’s been rescued from attic entombment after half a century. His most recent album, 2019’s “Solastalgia”, is a musical evocation of mental distress caused by environmental change.
Irisarri’s works are widely published internationally, made available through respected and influential labels like Ghostly (USA), Morr Music (DE), Room40 (AU), and Umor Rex (MX), among dozen others. His recorded output heavily utilize bowed guitars, piano, strings, synths, field recordings, voices, and electronic instruments, creating dense clouds of blurry, hypnotic sound.
Starting his career out in Seattle during the early 00’s, Irisarri quickly became an integral part of the Seattle music community while organizing electronic music shows and experiential performances at concert halls, churches, and DIY art spaces. 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 neighbourhood, 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. Substrata ran for five sold-out editions in Seattle, plus an offshoot event at London’s Cafe OTO (2014). The festival is currently on an extended hiatus.
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 decontextualize 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 SettembreMusica (Italy), TodaysArt (The Netherlands), GAMMA (Russia), Dark Mofo (Tasmania), and Unsound (Poland).
Irisarri is a prolific audio engineer and collaborator, having worked with dozens of seminal artists at his Black Knoll Studio in New York. Credits include: Julianna Barwick, Grouper, Steve Hauschildt, Loscil, Telefon Tel Aviv, and Tycho, amongst hundreds of others.
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.
As of February 2020