Last Year Rafael Anton Irisarri released his new album titled A Fragile Geography (out via Room40), one of the best albums of 2015. American composer will be in Europe for a short tour. Check the dates and read our interview below.

– February 11 – Berlin @ KW Institute for Contemporary Art
– February 12 – Turin @ Superbudda
– February 13 – Venice @ Spazio Aereo
– February 16 – Milan @ Masada (Plunge project)
– February 17 – Prague @ Vila Štvanice
– February 18 – Moscow @ M’ARS Centre for Audiovisual Art
– February 19 – Leuven @ Artifact Festival

Let’s start with your last album. “A Fragile Geography” was one of our favorite albums of the 2015. “Compositionally the music mirrors the tensions of contemporary America, contrasting passages of great beauty and calm with harrowing waves of density and pressure”.  This was the statement that has introduced your album. How did you start the process  of composition to make a “portrait” of this conflict?

I had a pretty tumultuous year in 2014 – a change in environment to say the least. It was a life defining moment and much stressful I must say. At the same time I was going through so much disarray, I’d read the news and look to the outside world and see my personal troubles seem minuscule by comparison. For the longest of time, music/s been a way to cope with my own frustrations and health issues. Depression can be a powerful ally when you channel it correctly. Sometimes I look at the world and the only sensible thing to do is make a bunch of noise and let it all out somehow. This new album is indeed a time capsule of a period in my life. There’s great beauty in sadness. One could say the album an observation of the general anxiety we are currently living in the United States today. Some of my earlier works (Daydreaming, 2007) reflected on the notion of a decaying American dream. Almost 10 years later since my first release, and we are living in a very tense America, one where opportunities seem to be eroding more and more which each passing day for working people. This is important to me, as I don’t come from money. I grew up very poor and held a job ever since I was old enough to work a job. I didn’t have a happy childhood, quite far from it, I was doomed from the start! I worked myself out of poverty through sheer triumph of the will and determination to strive. I’ve had to work extremely hard (twice as hard as every person I know) to get my career and business going (www.blackknollstudio.com), and it’s been doing great. I’m lucky enough my dayjob (mixing & mastering music) I love, and I get to work with amazing artists every day. Last year alone, I worked on over 45 albums!

I plan to work until I drop dead, I wouldn’t have it any other way, there’s is nothing else in the world I want but to be able to keep working effectively and letting my work speak for itself.

Artwork is amazing. It mirrors completely the mood and themes of the album. Tell me more about it.

My friend Sean Curtis Patrick made it. The source of the image is a mystery to me, and I like to keep it that way. I’ve never asked him where he took it. It reminds me of my life in Seattle, by the water. So I’d love to think it’s from the Pacific Northwest somewhere, even if that’s not the case in actuality.

The best part of your music is every details you can discover everytime you listen to it. How did you work about this side of your music?

That’s an influence from a certain kind of photography, where you have to force yourself to look pass the graininess of the film and uncover new things, new images form with each new look.


One of your best ability is the combination of music and visual art, and also the research of new ways to express yourself and your ideas. What is your definition of art and experimentation reflated to the background of your works?

I like to think of musical notes as very luxurious items and I can only afford to use just a few notes to express an emotion, so in my view, art needs to be economical, it needs to be functional, and it needs to express an idea with a very minimal amount of items.

What is the weight of Visual Art impact on your live performances?

It used to be equally important as the music, but for the past many years, I haven’t been using video as part of the performance. See, if every artist has visuals, then what’s the point? Does every concert need to be a multimedia experience? I’ve been focusing instead on sound, playing in pitch black rooms, and creating an isolationist environment. Some listeners have described the experience as been trapped in an airplane that’s about to crash. I like that analogy!

What about Orcas? Will we heard about it this year? And What about The Sight Below project?

Benoit Pioulard visited recently my studio in NY and we made a record worth of new music, though I reckon it doesn’t sound much like ORCAS, so we may or may not release it. As for The Sight Below: I’ve been slowly writing new music for a new album, which I’m hoping to finish before Spring comes and schedule for a 2016 release. We shall see!