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Rafael Anton Irisarri's A Fragile Geography is a record cast in a climate of unsteadiness and transition, reflecting upon the current state of everyday living. Recorded over 2014 and '15, the record bears the marks of difficult terrain -- personal, political, social, and cultural. It tips its hat to the complex and unpredictable dynamics of the contemporary world, correlating concerns both macro and micro. Compositionally, the music mirrors the tensions of contemporary America, contrasting passages of great beauty and calm with harrowing waves of density and pressure. A Fragile Geography also charts Rafael Anton Irisarri's personal journey of transience and tumult. His entire studio, audio archives, and possessions were stolen while moving from Seattle to New York, forcing him to rebuild from ground zero. But such a tabula rasa moment also brought with it a chance for renewal, and for reductive experimentation. This experience birthed a range of fresh approaches and ideas, many of which became central to the aesthetic pillars of this record. "Empire Systems," the album's centerpiece, perfectly encapsulates this mood of flux; a rich and harmonically saturated monolith of sound, restless, and constantly reaching outward. Like much of the album, it is considered, but not excessively labored; open, but never unruly. A Fragile Geography is an exercise in the art of maximal minimalism.
Rafael Anton Irisarri is an American composer, multi-instrumentalist, and interdisciplinary artist and curator predominantly associated with ambient, drone, modern classical, and post-minimalist music. He is better known in the international music press for his ambient techno productions as The Sight Below on esteemed U.S. label Ghostly International. Irisarri tours frequently, which has led to a host of collaborations with artists as diverse as mainstream Top 40 rapper Matisyahu and experimental ambient composers such as Fennesz and Lawrence English. Among his career highlights are solo concerts for prestigious global events like Milan's MITO SettembreMusica, Barcelona's Sónar, and The Hague's TodaysArt. As a producer Irisarri has engineered dozens of albums at his Black Knoll Studio in New York for labels such as Kranky, Ghostly, Morr Music, Room40, and Touch. As a remixer he's been commissioned by countless artists, including The Naked and Famous, School of Seven Bells, and Pantha du Prince.