Willie Reviews Leandro Fresco & Rafael Anton Irisarri’s “Una Presencia En La Brisa”

Willie Reviews Leandro Fresco & Rafael Anton Irisarri’s “Una Presencia En La Brisa”

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Una Presencia En La Brisa, the second collaboration between ambient musicians Leandro Fresco and Rafael Anton Irisarri, rides a breeze to gain great heights. RPM’s review:

Much of the ambient music of the last two decades has declared itself brutal, terrifying, and—somewhat inscrutably—warm. William Basinski, Tim Hecker, Loscil, and many more artists are a part of that ring of menacing ambient, and you couldn’t be blamed for mixing them up from time to time. As effective as they are, their sound is maximized, powered-on minimalism that intentionally flows right in and out of you. So with the arrival of a second album from fuzzy ambient duo Leandro Fresco and Rafael Anton Irisarri, we have to break through the clutter and examine Una Presencia En La Brisa in a vacuum. The album’s six long, pulsing tracks don’t just swell up and down, they examine the words that make up fleeting emotions and the emotions contained in those words.

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In order to first latch onto the music, I found myself reading into the titles. Through my perfectly adequate translation, I found descriptions of abstract happenings and tiny, fractional moments of observation. Listening to these tracks is a matter of reconciling “El Vacío En Sus Ojos” (“The Emptiness In Their Eyes”) with separated and unrecognizable samples wrenched apart and crushed into oblivion. The disconnect between a poetic observation and such a frightening execution is key to these pieces’ operation. A less intense ambient version might represent emptiness with silence, but the inverse (substituting loudness for emptiness) reaches the same conclusion from another, more unexpected entry point. The vacant stare is filled with a baseline level of fuzz, but stretched loops and accents fill the rest of the space until nothing more can fit. Each element helps hone the focus, directing the ear toward something invisible at the center. There aren’t directions to focus on one thing or another, but by implanting the idea of focus, the end goal is still resoundingly achieved.

To understand another of the album’s apparent low-stakes thoughts turned loud, we can pick apart the ubiquitous “swell” that seems to make up so much of the album. “Mientras Más Me Alejo De Ti, Menos Me Importa Cuan Lejos Estoy” (“The Further I Get Away From You, The Less I Care How Far I Am”) marks time with a creeping beat that either moves out of sync or gets lost in the rising waters of the noise around it. The sound begins as a simple bass note, but later expands to higher and higher frequencies, eventually marking the low point of the even swells. Though many of the tracks have an organic, unfolding structure, this one seems to fight for its consistency. A swell here is a rise that precedes a fall, and with every repetition, we believe that more and more. Hearing the relationship between blaring noise and inevitable stomping is enough to establish the trance of the piece.

Mientras Más Me Alejo De Ti, Menos Me Importa Cuan Lejos Estoy

The two musicians on this album collaborated across continents, with Fresco in Buenos Aires and Irisarri in New York City. Just as the music ties itself together in long, complex knots, Fresco and Irisarri’s work is defined in process by movement, sending, and receiving. The possibility of this work is stunning by itself, but the intoxicating textures and hard-to-place feelings make it an essential first step into ambient music of the ‘20s.

Score: Slow Motion Pouring Rice Into A Tray (Long Version)

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