The Sight Below It All Falls Apart

[Ghostly International; 2010]

Styles: ambient, drone, electronic
Others: GAS, Seefeel, Slowdive

In 2008, when The Sight Below’s Glider was released, no one knew who was behind the project. The album was solid enough to coast on good vibes from anyone who wished to hear something similar to Wolfgang Voigt’s GAS project after they’d exhausted the Nah Und Fern box set (which collected all of the previously out-of-print GAS albums that same year). Although the reviews of Glider weren’t overtly negative, even the most positive ones mentioned the lack of originality despite the project’s overall success. Two years later and we now know that Miasmah label artist Rafael Anton Irisarri is the man behind The Sight Below. We also know that while Glider was just him with guitar and some loop pedals, the new incarnation is now a duo featuring Simon Scott, original drummer for shoegaze giants Slowdive. Other than that, not much has changed on It All Falls Apart.

From the opening seconds of It All Falls Apart to its very last note, there are only minor changes to Irisarri’s sound. The gaseous guitar clouds return with less of the 4/4 beats than last time, but manage to be just as effective. It’s difficult to tell what each musician contributed, since Scott’s own recent album on Miasmah, Navigare, also doesn’t diverge too much from this territory. But the most obvious is the inclusion of a cover of the Joy Division classic “New Dawn Fades,” with vocals from Tiny Vipers’ Jesy Fortino. It reminds me of David Sylvian’s vocal turn on Fennesz’ Venice, breaking up the monotony of an otherwise entirely instrumental album. While not quite as striking as a song like “Transit” — and obviously not of the same ilk as the original — it serves its purpose well here and elevates an otherwise good album to an even better one.

Glider was a strong album and It All Falls Apart bodes just as well. Irisarri makes it sound so easy, but there are endless ambient and drone artists roaming the web these days whose music isn’t nearly as effective. He stands above the pack not through great stylistic differences, but through the overall quality of his work. Though, one would hope that he and Scott break out a few new tricks next time; otherwise, The Sight Below could end up as just another face in that same crowd.

Links: The Sight Below - Ghostly International

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