Cosmic Lullabies | Rafael Anton Irisarri’s Sirimiri

RafaelIrisarri_Sirimiri

From the commencement of Sirimiri, the Irisarri fan might be surprised to find he’s pivoted slightly from recent efforts. The urgency of Irisarri’s music is something we’ve come to rely on from the artist, and though we might be scratching our heads at first to find that quality significantly dialled back here, it is not done, thankfully, at the expense of everything else that makes his music so captivating. Taking a page out of Eno, Irisarri brings together four ambient pieces that sound as though they are mostly derived of loops, with added guitar and degraded tape embellishments. Where past efforts have seen Irisarri’s pieces charged with an omnipresent forward push, Sirimiri is content with the slow and steady. The narrative of Irisarri’s Midnight Colours, or last year’s The Shameless Years, is wiped almost clean to make room for introspection and repetition — Ouroboros could have fared nicely in lieu of the album’s actual title (Sirimiri, by the way, is the Basque word for drizzle).

Interestingly, the cassette version of this release is a C72 that has the seamless, 36-minute track version of the album on both sides. The digital version is the four album tracks separated (but also includes a bonus track that is the whole seamless version). I can’t imagine anyone who owns the tape would want to listen to it just once, so having the album on both sides would be conducive for the kind of obsessive repeated playback it will impart on fans. I don’t fully understand the motivation to release the tracks separately at all. If the album is intended to be one long piece and the physical release is that way, than why not just release it that way digitally as well? The upshot is that these are two very different experiences of the album and it’s fun to compare them (also feels like you’re getting your money’s worth).

Being a big Windy & Carl fan, it was exciting to see Carl Hultgren’s guitar credit on “Sonder.” It’s the lengthiest of Sirimiri’s tracks by far and the most memorable. Hultgren’s guitar is the perfect melancholic backdrop to Irisarri’s weather-beaten drones. In that signature W&C style the guitar washes over everything, feeling like it’s coming at you from all angles. The duo quickly find a comfortable groove and meditate there; all the while the listener is given little choice but to succumb to the cosmic spell set into motion by these sounds. This leads into “Vasastan,” and “Mountain Stream” Sirimir’s pensive back half. The former’s heavily-effected plunking feels almost a nod to Keith Fullerton Whitman’s Playthroughs, while the latter is a noir lullaby that mentally situates one in the natural environment of the track’s title. Fantastic album all-around. Irisarri is on a tear.

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Tape is sold out but get is digitally at Umor Rex.

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