Rafael Anton Irisarri

Rafael Anton Irisarri is an American composer, multi-instrumentalist, producer and mastering engineer based in New York. He is predominantly associated with post-minimalist, drone and electronic music. His pointillist compositions lean towards ostinato motifs that tap into minimalist ideals, while his studio production style is characterized by dense layers of reverb and delay. Bowed guitar textures, deep pulsing bass tones, field recordings, submerged piano notes, melancholic strings and subtle electronic counterpoints all contribute and converge equally in his music to create an oceanic experience that contrasts the epic and subdued.

Rafael Anton Irisarri
Rafael Anton Irisarri at Discovery Park, April 2010
Rafael Anton Irisarri at Discovery Park, April 2010
Background information
OriginUnited States
GenresPost-minimalism, drone, 20th century classical, contemporary classical
Occupation(s)Composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist
Years active2005–present
LabelsRoom40, Ghostly International, Miasmah, Immune, Touch

His compositions have been described by Jefferson Petrey as "a dual perspective close-up focus on the micro textures of rustling static-filled sonic surfaces with the wide-open distant tree lined horizons of sunset at dusk."[1] PopMatters depicted his music as "sensual, propulsive, and shrouded in mercurial darkness"[2] while Drowned in Sound chronicled "his ear for a soul-crushing melody continues to shine through the album's dense caverns of reverb". Chris Brosman from online tastemaker Pitchfork referred to his production work as "a beautifully bleak cloud of sound",[3] while music journalist Patric Fallon praised his compositions as "dense, panoramic soundscapes".[4]

Irisarri is also known as the main member of electronic music/shoegaze act The Sight Below, and signed to American label Ghostly International.


Irisarri cited in an interview with German magazine De:Bug as having been inspired by classical composers like Mahler, Satie, Debussy, and Wagner, and contemporary musicians like Kevin Shields, Robin Guthrie, and Harold Budd.[5] He also cites French existentialist philosopher Albert Camus and Uruguayan short story writer Horacio Quiroga as influences, and lists Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry as one of his all-time favorite books.[6][7] He considers filmmakers David Lynch, Jan Švankmajer, Werner Herzog, and Julio Medem as continuous sources of inspiration.[6][7] In a radio interview with the ABC in Sydney, Irisarri goes into further detail, describing to Quiet Space radio host Paul Gough the process behind The North Bend as inspired by "this region (American Pacific Northwest), 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."[8]

Irisarri field recording on the Puget Sound in March 2010.

Live performancesEdit

Irisarri playing bowed guitar at MITO Settembre Musica Festival in Milan, Italy (2009).

Irisarri travels frequently to perform live throughout Europe, North America, Australia and the Middle East.[9] Highlights include concerts at Barcelona's Sónar, Detroit's DEMF, Montreal's MUTEK, and Krakow's Unsound. Aside from electronic music festivals, Irisarri has presented his works at multidisciplinary arts events, including Milan's prestigious MITO SettembreMusica festival[10] and Israel Festival in Jerusalem.[11]

His live performances are mostly centered around the piano, electric guitar and laptop, with Irisarri manipulating the sonic timbre of his instruments using different complex DSP patches and routings through his notebook computer, effect pedals and multichannel mixer.[12][13] He utilizes real-time signal processing, chaining together a series of custom-made looping software to achieve the textural density of his recorded works and favors all improvised performances, earning him recognition from peers like Pantha Du Prince.[14]

Rafael Anton Irisarri performing live at St. Catherine's (16th century Gothic church) during Unsound Festival in Krakow, Poland October 24, 2008[15]

In December 2010, Irisarri released, through his Bandcamp store, a collection of live recordings performed at selected cities worldwide.[16]


In the studio, Irisarri has worked extensively with Simon Scott, Tiny Vipers, Benoît Pioulard, Goldmund and remixed School of Seven Bells, Balmorhea, Detroit's Echospace, and Germany's Pantha Du Prince. Live, he has collaborated with Australian artist and Room40 label curator Lawrence English, Portland's Grouper, and Italian electro-acoustic composer Andrea Belfi.[17][18][19]

In 2010, Irisarri collaborated twice with Austrian guitarist Fennesz, performing together live at Interferenze Festival in Italy and later at Decibel Festival in Seattle.[20][21]

In May 2010, Irisarri traveled to Jerusalem to collaborate with Koen Holtkamp, Greg Davis, Ido Govrin, Ran Slavin and Yair Etziony in a two-day audiovisual performance piece titled Dissolving Localities, which explored the city's diverse cultures and unique sights and sounds.[22] The project was commissioned as part of Israel Festival.[23]

On January 21, 2011, Irisarri and Benoît Pioulard released a cover version of Broadcast's "Until Then" (from the band's 2000 album The Noise Made by People), as a tribute to Trish Keenan.[24][25] Later that year, the collaboration spawned into a full, new project, called Orcas. Their debut album was released in April 2012 on Morr Music.

As a media artist, Irisarri has prepared, created and performed live video for Fennesz, Lusine, Simon Scott, Solvent, and The Sight Below.[26]


Studio albums

  • (2007) Daydreaming, 12" LP/CD/Digital, Miasmah (NO)
  • (2010) The North Bend, 12" LP/CD/Digital, ROOM40 (AU)
  • (2013) The Unintentional Sea, 12" LP/CD/Digital, ROOM40 (AU)
  • (2015) A Fragile Geography, 12" LP/Digital, ROOM40 (AU)
  • (2017) The Shameless Years, 12" LP/Digital, Umor Rex (MX)
  • (2017) La Equidistancia (with Leandro Fresco), 12" LP/Digital, A Strangely Isolated Place (US)
  • (2018) Midnight Colours, Cassette/Digital, Geographic North (US)
  • (2018) Sirimiri, Cassette/Digital, Umor Rex (US)
  • (2018) El Ferrocarril Desvaneciente, Cassette/Digital, Umor Rex (MX)
  • (2019) Solastalgia, 12" LP/Digital, ROOM40 (AU)
  • (2020) Una Presencia En La Brisa (with Leandro Fresco), 12" LP/Digital, A Strangely Isolated Place (UK)
  • (2020) Peripeteia, 12" LP/Digital, Dais Records (US)
  • (2022) Sacred Hatred, LP/Digital, Black Knoll Editions (US)

Studio mini-LP

  • (2010) Reverie, 12" mini-LP/Digital, Immune (US)

Studio EPs

  • (2009) Hopes and Past Desires 7" EP/Digital, Immune (US)
  • (2015) Will Her Heart Burn Anymore, CDR/Digital, ROOM40 (AU)
  • (2017) La Espera (with Leandro Fresco), 10" EP/Digital, A Strangely Isolated Place (US)
  • (2017) THESIS 10 (with Julianna Barwick), 10" EP, THESIS (US)


  • (2009) StillMusique Pour Statue Menhirs CD/Digital, Arbouse Recordings (FR)
  • (2009) Abandoned (Too Soon)Unreleased Tracks 2009 CD/Digital, Fugues (FR)
  • (2010) These Red WintersKeys (A Comprehensive Collection of Contemporary Piano Compositions) 12" LP/Digital, American Typewriter (ES)
  • (2010) DistanceRoom40 10-Year Anniversary compilation CD/Digital, ROOM40 (AU)
  • (2010) Path – Various, 10" CD/Digital, The Wire (UK)
  • (2011) Gnossienne No. 1 (with Goldmund) – Erik Satie et les nouveaux jeunes CD/Digital, Arbouse Recordings (FR)
  • (2011) Moments Descend on My WindowpaneSMM: Context 12" LP/CD/Digital, Ghostly International (US)
  • (2022) Thalasso (with Julianna Barwick) - For Ukraine Vol. 2 LP/Digital, Headphone Commute (UK)


  • (2008) Papercutz – Ultravioleta Remixes, "Ultravioleta" (The Sight Below rmx), CD/Digital, Apegenine recordings (CA)
  • (2009) Balmorhea – All Is Wild, All Is Silent Remixes, "Harm and Boon", 12" LP/CD/Digital, Western Vinyl (US)
  • (2010) CV313 – Subtraktive (King Midas Sound / The Sight Below Mixes), "Subtraktive" (The Sight Below remix), 12" EP/Digital, Echospace Detroit (US)
  • (2011) Pantha Du Prince – XI Versions of Black Noise, "A Nomad's Retreat" (The Sight Below version), 12" LP/CD/Digital, Rough Trade


  • (2011) The Sight Below / Biosphere – N-Plants Remixes, 12" EP, Touch (UK)
  • (2013) TNAFPassive Me Aggressive You, "The Sun" (The Sight Below remix), Digital (iTunes exclusive), Fiction Records (UK)
  • (2013) Saroos – "Seadance" (The Sight Below remix), Digital (iTunes exclusive), Alien Transistor (DE)
  • (2014) TNAF – In Rolling Waves, "Waltz" (The Sight Below remix), Digital (iTunes exclusive), Fiction Records (UK)

Guest appearances

  • (2009) Simon Scott – Navigare, Spring Stars 12" LP/CD/Digital, Miasmah (NO)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Artists - Rafael Anton Irisarri". American Typewriter. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  2. ^ Newmark, Mike. "The Sight Below: It All Falls Apart". PopMatters. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  3. ^ ""New Dawn Fades" [Joy Division cover; ft. Tiny Vipers] | Forkcast Archive". Pitchfork. 2010-03-02. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  4. ^ Fallon, Patric (2010-09-08). "That's My Jam!: The Sight Below's Blurry Soundscapes". Blogs.sfweekly.com. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  5. ^ "De:Bug Magazin » Neo Klassik: Rafael Anton Irisarri". De-bug.de. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  6. ^ a b "textura". textura. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  7. ^ a b "High on the Down Low by Dave Segal - Seattle Music - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper". Thestranger.com. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  8. ^ "Rafael Anton Irissari - Quiet Space - ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Abc.net.au. 2010-08-09. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  9. ^ "RA News: The Sight Below releases debut, tours". Residentadvisor.net. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  10. ^ "Irisarri | MITO SettembreMusica - Festival internazionale della Musica Torino Milano". Mitosettembremusica.it. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  11. ^ "Blog Archive » Israel Festival 2010 – Program May 25 – 28". MidnightEast. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  12. ^ "06/09/2009 - 23:00-Concerto-Teatro Out Off | MITO SettembreMusica - Festival internazionale della Musica Torino Milano". Mitosettembremusica.it. 2009-09-06. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  13. ^ "Live at MITO Festival Milano (September 2009)". Youtube.com. 2009-09-10. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  14. ^ "News - FILTER's Top 10 of 2010: Pantha du Prince". FILTER Magazine. 2010-12-10. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  15. ^ "Unsound". Unsound.pl. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  16. ^ Segal, Dave (2010-12-29). "Free Rafael Anton Irisarri Live Album | Line Out". Lineout.thestranger.com. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  17. ^ "Room40 Open Frame at Cafe Oto, 4-5 November 2010 | Scott McMillan's modestly proportioned storage facility". Mapsadaisical.wordpress.com. 2010-11-07. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  18. ^ "Rafael Anton Irisarri And Lawrence English LIVE 2010". YouTube. 2010-08-21. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  19. ^ [1] Archived January 9, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ "Stream two live collaborations between Fennesz and The Sight Below – FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music". Factmag.com. 2011-01-04. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  21. ^ Baxter, Jason (2010-09-26). "Decibel Festival: Optical 2: Tactile Immersion: The Review | Line Out". Thestranger.com. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  22. ^ "Sound Postcard : Rafael Anton Irisarri – Jerusalem | Headphone Commute". Reviews.headphonecommute.com. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  23. ^ "Dissolving Localities - 26 May, 2010 - 27 May, 2010 - Festivals - Jerusalem Events". GoJerusalem.com. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  24. ^ "Benoît Pioulard and Sight Below Cover Broadcast | News". Pitchfork. 2011-01-21. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  25. ^ "Until Then (Broadcast Cover)". XLR8R. 2011-01-21. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  26. ^ "Fennesz @ Interferenze". YouTube. 2010-08-05. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 2014-01-08.

External linksEdit