Rafael Anton Irisarri is a composer/sound artist, and mixing/mastering engineer based in rural New York, by way of the Pacific Northwest. His creative output consists of two personas – works under his own name focusing on subtly shifting soundscapes, which he refers to as “maximal minimalism’, and his more techno bent works under The Sight Below moniker; each building dense sonic textures with a clarity of purpose. He is also the proprietor of Black Knoll Studio, where he mixes and mastered music in the experimental electronic, ambient, and post-classical genres.
You buy a new album, describe your routine/experience of its first listening.
I prefer to listen to music on consumer speakers and in my living room, as opposed to in the studio. Whenever I listen in my studio, I get into work mode, so instead of enjoying the work, I tend to start analyzing it from a technical & production perspective. Thus, listening in my living room tends to be the most ‘relaxing’ way to do it and enjoy it for what it is. As I’m listening to the record, I like to read about it, maybe find more about the artist if it’s previously unknown to me or simply just read a few interviews about the process behind the album.
On subsequent listens to that same record, which aspects of the music do you focus your listening on. does this change over time? how?
Definitely the production, I start analyzing and focusing on the mix elements, quality of the mastering work, and of course, once I start listening in my studio, then it’s unavoidable, I get into work mode.
If you could choose your favorite listening environment, what would it be? what draws you to that place to hear the music you’re listening too?
Probably my teenage era bedroom. It just brings back memories to the time I could spend the most time with music, when you still didn’t have a job and could spend a LOT of time listening to music, thinking about it and learning at the same time.
How does one make their listening listened to? What is the best avenue to communicate your listening experience to others?
That’s a tough question in this age. I feel it’s a crime most people listen to music on earbuds or thru laptop speakers. You miss so much content on those playback systems. I’d like to think I’m able to make this point on social media. (https://twitter.com/blackknoll)