Artist Spotlight: The Sight BelowPosted by Tom Meagher
Seattle-based The Sight Below, is the musical project of Rafael Anton Irisarri. In 2010, the group released It All Falls Apart, on Ghostly International, on which he collaborated with ex-Slowdive band member Simon Scott (here). Although it is primarily an ambient album full of cathartic guitar drones and minimal techno drum beats, it has garnered a surprising amount of popularity with obscure and mainstream publications like Pitchfork and Textura, which only suggests that accessibility can still exist in music long considered inaccessible by many. The Slowdive association and a cover of Joy Division’s “New Dawn Fades” may attract a typical indie crowd, but it’s better to think that their music alone operates as the cross-point of musical accessibility and experimentation. Their appeal is analogous to the aura surrounding William Basinki (the most withdrawn and attentive music fans usually enjoy his music, especially Disintegration Loops and Viviene and Ondine). The Sight Below’s 2010 effort may be far-removed in scope and execution from the aforementioned Basinki releases, but the appeal exists, which is important for a band arguably operating in niche genres.
Irisarri released, The North Bend, an album colored with becalming, wall-of sound guitar drones that capture the topography of the American northwest. Land and geography are a common source of inspiration for artists of the genre and the songs maintain a thick, aural atmosphere that fully enlivens the terrain depicted in the compositions’ song titles.
As The Sight Below, Irisarri expresses an affinity for composing ambient music by fusing the truth of his environment with the poignancy of deep introspection.