Electronic / IDM / Ambient / Drone listening club


Interesting how many people are going back to it after 10+ years. Maybe that in itself says something about it being ‘of it’s time’ rather than a full on classic.

Going to explore it a bit more over the next few days and see where I land on it. It’s definitely been a weird nostalgia rush hearing it for the first time in so long.


So I really like it but I’d put it below the other classics from that year (Amber, 76:14, SAW 2, Snivilisation). It does feel like it was a pretty important record in paving the way for more ‘textural’ ambient music with lots of found sounds. Those others are more ‘musical’ for lack of a better term.


Happy Thursday! Here’s my pick, hopefully all the links work…

‘The North Bend’ by Rafael Anton Irisarri (Room40)

I often discover artists who make this kind of music at a point when they already have quite an extensive back catalogue. The first few came around 2011 as my tastes were expanding a bit more, with Oneohtrix Point Never (‘Replica’) and Tim Hecker (‘Ravedeath, 1972’ - sorry @AphexTwinkletoes I still hold this up as one of his very best records). I was quite close to making Hecker’s 'Haunt Me, Haunt Me, Do It Again’ my pick, until it got a fresh slap of exposure from Kranky’s recent reissue. The reason I waffle on about this is it’s overwhelming just how much incredible music there is, and almost impossible to find the time it deserves. It’s especially daunting when you come to an artist three or four albums in, as I found with the work of Rafael Anton Irisarri.

I wasn’t familiar with Irisarri’s music until ‘A Fragile Geography’ was shared on these here boards, and was instantly drawn to the incredible track Empire Systems. Last year Irisarri realsed two superb records that I absolutely rinsed, and he’s already released two more this year. Just keeping up with his output, alongside the work he does as owner of Black Knoll Studios, is a challange, so i’d put off invesitgating the albums that came before ‘A Fragile Geography’ for too long. Of the two that I’ve listened to recently (the other being ‘The Unintentional Sea’ - also on Room40, and well worth your time) I’ve been blown away by his 2010 album ‘The North Bend’. In an interview with Headphone Commute Irisarri said "The North Bend is an audio representation of the Pacific Northwest region, and not just with the fairly obvious ‘rainy, gloomy skies’ clichés, but more in the folk, cultural traditions and pop-culture references. They sort of influenced the creative process and helped draft a audio postcard of this beautiful area of the United States” (full interview: https://reviews.headphonecommute.com/2011/04/02/interview-with-rafael-anton-irisarri/).

I’ve not been to the PNW region, but I have consumed a fair amount of it’s pop culture references, thanks Mr. Lynch, so this definitely rings true. So far I’ve listened to ’The North Bend’ around 10+ times, but to me it conjures up such emotive cinematic imagery in it’s beautiful soundscapes. It instantly caught my attention and drew me in with it’s atmosphere and mood, alongside an unnerving foreboding feeling, but it doesn’t get lost in that darkness. It has such an impressive production (mastered by Lawrence English) that doesn’t overwhelm, and is wonderfully layered and structured. Along with it’s use of repeated loops (stunningly so on the track Traces) it all comes together to build these large landscapes both in your headphones and your mind. I’m really coming to love this record, and hope it gets a reissue some day soon.

Writing about this kind of music isn’t something that comes naturally to me, it’s often more about a feeling, and writing about it can be very tricky. Hopefully this introduction as to why I’ve chosen ‘The North Bend’ helps to convey the album’s beauty, and how I finally got round to discovering it. It’s fast becoming my favourite Irisarri LP, and I hope you lovely folks enjoy it too.

tl;dr - It’s a Rafael Anton Irisarri album from 2010, you all like him, right?

Sam x


shame to spoil a lovely bit of writing like with one of the rare (possibly only) objectively incorrect opinions in music :wink:

I’ve actually not listened to much RAI but, by coincidence, had decided earlier this week to rectify that! Hadn’t gotten around to listening to this one yet but some grandiose sorrowful strings have just entered the mix in Passage and I’m instantly sold.


I love Irisarri’s recent work and have been meaning to dig into his earlier stuff for a while now. Cheers for giving me a good excuse @old_man_burner!

Really need to catch up on a few of the earlier picks first though…


Had a lot of fun with FSOL over the last couple of weeks. Dug into their more recent Environments series again for the first time in a while. Mixed bag but some wonderful moments.


Same here! The Shameless Years was a top 5 record for me last year, and both Midnight Colours and Sirimiri from this year are already firm favourites, but I don’t really know anything earlier than A Fragile Geography so this is a perfect opportunity to dig in to his back catalogue. Looking forward to getting lost in it…


Seems like FSOL has been one of the more controversial picks so far. Very mixed reaction, but probably leaning more towards “It’s just not as good as the other records that came out at that time.” I definitely think it’s dated a bit more than some of the other “classics” of that time, but there’s still enough invention, ideas and exploration in there to make it a worthwhile listen.


Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

What great timing, and happy RAI week to you! what other RAI records have you been listening to this week?


So far just his 2018 releases which are both lovey


Oh Paris, We Are Fucked from Midnight Colours is an absolute masterclass in that kind of distorted, comforting white-noise ambience that Timbo Hecker and Lawrence English trade in. One of my favourite tracks from this year for sure.


Snap on ‘The Shameless Years’, though I’ve found myself going back to his LP with Leondro Fresco ‘La Equidistancia’ more often this year.

As much as I like both of them, it would have been handy if the release dates of ‘Midnight Colours’ and ‘Sirimiri’ were a little further apart. They’re both firm favourites here too, but I tend to listen to them back to back, I need to give them more space to breath.

I hope you enjoy ‘The North Bend’ :smiley:


Yeah it’s gargantuan


Just got this on whilst doing job applications and checking in to say what a gorgeous record this is. Great choice @old_man_burner!


ooooohhh, looks like next week’s worktime listening for me - all the right associations and an artist with whom I’m entirely unfamiliar - can’t wait…


I think that’s it. I enjoyed listening to it again, but I reckon in six months time if I think to myself, “hmm, I fancy some early 90s ambient electronica” I’d go to Adventures Beyond The Underworld or Global Communication without even thinking of FSOL. It’s good but very much of it’s time, and I don’t think it transcends that anymore. Stakker Humanoid though, that was a tune…


That melody which emerges towards the end of The Passage is wonderful


It’s such a captivating opener, draws me in every time.

I hope people have been enjoying it, and thanks again for giving me a slot to share this record x


Listening to The North Bend - the description (and that it’s on Room40 - I’ve been meaning to get into Lawrence English for yonks, seeing as I enjoy his collab with Grouper so much) has me intrigued.


Started a rewatch of the entire Twin Peaks saga recently as a present to myself (taking Coop’s advice, as one always should) and this is fulfilling that craving one gets for the atmosphere