Rafael Anton Irisarri – Daydreaming (Miasmah)

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Daydreaming, the first full-length recording from Rafael Anton Irisarri, suspends the linear flow of time, resting in those crevices where it becomes coagulated because in it resounds the failed elements of the past. Irisarri favours pieces that, in their broken, highly atmospheric nature, almost ask to be resurrected. In the repetition of key motifs – massive plangent drones, somber, sepulchral piano figures shadowed by off-key accents, gentle scrapings and overtones – a certain redemption is had, as these elements, once buried under a moss of swirling static and flowing stream of synthesized strings, are made to signify and achieve a sort of retroactive meaning. In the complex virtuosity of Irisarri’ aesthetics of failure, clear images of black lakes and dark forests are established. Still, there is always the sense that things will go awry, that the dominant though fragile piano melody will be taken by the undercurrent of grating electronics or lost in the hubbub of the crisscrossing harp-like patterns.

‘Wither’, for instance, takes place against a full, fluid organ drone which, if not exactly warm, discloses a certain radiance. At the same time, so many low end thuds and gloomy string drones sweep across it like wind and rain, revealing the conflict inherent in the music. It’s worth noting, however, that, although the works on hand present a shifting array of spatial and musical relationships, fashioning a whole that has real body and convincing animation, they do teeter on the verge of being overwrought. The subliminal feel of some of the works can still be fairly arresting. Album closer, ‘A Glimpse’, for one, finds a drifting piano harmony playing in the crackle of cold intermittent lights while distant sonorous squiggles hint at the presence of locusts ready to set in. As one of the albums more successful compositions, it is inflected by an unknown presence that is in it more than itself and thus is imbued with a sense of the inevitability of collapse.

Max Schaefer

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