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Rafael
Anton Irisarri: A Fragile Geography (Room40)

Irisarri’s
latest full-length album is hard for me to hear without projecting my
own emotional response to hearing that he and his wife had their
entire life’s possessions stolen when thieves hotwired their moving
truck the night before leaving Seattle for NYC. I know the heartache
I felt losing a hard drive worth of music, so I can
only imagine the devastation of losing all of his gear, furniture,
and clothes that weren’t still unpacked. So the saturated, hazy,
gloomy movements of A Fragile Geography seem especially imbued with
sadness and mourning to me. Consider even its titles: “Hiatus,”
“Persistence,” “Displacement” – and a title that any PNWer
will identify with: “Secretly Wishing For Rain.” However, even
without that context, this is surely one of Irisarri’s darkest
releases. “Reprisal” is a prolonged, floating dirge of pads that
builds for nine minutes, recalling the most sublime droning noise of
vintage NON but more emotive, less provocative.

A Fragile Geography by rafael anton irisarri

He pursues this
swelling crescendo on “Empire Systems” as well, to even grander
effect. It’s the combo of those 2 pieces back to back in the album’s
front half that really make it the powerhouse that it is. However,
the subsequent tracks nicely complement the tension and discord of
those pieces, with a more languid and introspective quality to them.
As a result, A Fragile Geography works quite well as a continuous
album, each track progressing nicely to the next, with a gorgeous
denouement of effects, strings, and drones. It’s a well-informed
exploration of the fragility of things, showing off Irisarri’s knack
for atmosphere and emotion through subtly shaped sound.

Buy it: Boomkat | Bleep | iTunes | Amazon