Over 2 1/2 hrs of my favorite Slowdive songs weaved into one continuous mix. Their music was THE soundtrack to youthful, lonely days of heartbreak and feeling out of place in this world. No other band has meant this much in my life. They never provided instant gratification to the masses; never had a “hit,” or even a proper big tour. Nevertheless, we are still listening 19 years since their last album. Enjoy!
I’m off to Europe this week. Below a list of upcoming concerts & workshops. Hope to see you on the road!
Ambientfestival: Zivilation Der Liebe **workshop
Basilika St. Aposteln
Ambientfestival: Zivilation Der Liebe
Basilika St. Aposteln
DOX Centre for Contemporary Art
Festival Spectaculare **workshop
Photo by Danny Scales.
Ben and I joined the Ghostly label/family the same year (2008). We started to talk online soon after his School of Seven Bells album release. I always looked up to him, even though he was a year younger than me, he had such an amazing body of work behind him already (Tripping Daisy, Secret Machines). It was fascinating getting an email or simple message with a short congratulation or nice comment, meant a lot coming from him. At one point, he even invited me to warm up a NYC show for SVIIB. Unfortunately our paths weren’t meant to cross yet, and we wouldn’t meet in person until later that year when the band was on tour and playing in Seattle. Meeting him was like meeting an old friend you haven’t seen in a while but automatically just click as if time hadn’t passed at all. He was really nice and genuine, I felt like meeting a kindred spirit – we shared a lot of the same musical tastes/influences when it came to the noisier side of guitar music. There was mutual respect and admiration for each others’ work.
He was such a terrific musician – every time I saw him live, there was this aura of genius (he had a killer stage presence too) surrounding him. He had a very commanding persona onstage but at the same time kept cool and humble. It was such an experience witnessing the band’s concerts and most incredible watching Ben working that pedalboard and making such beautiful noise with it. I’ve read a lot of posts online in the past couple days about SVIIB and how criminally underrated they were; I feel that while the mainstream may have had a lot of catching up to do, to me he was a “musician’s musician” - someone we all (artists) admire because of the sensibility they bring to an already crowded field, a unique voice as some might say.
Ben and I always kept in touch over the years. Every time SVIIB played in Seattle, he would message and I’d come down to the show, we’d hang out, talk shop, share stories of life on the road, etc. Ben and I also corresponded via Facebook here and there, asking each other for advice on gear, fx pedals, etc – you know, music geek stuff we all love to do sometimes.
A few years ago, Ben asked me to remix one of SVIIB tracks, “Bye Bye Bye,” off their excellent Disconnect from Desire album. At the time, the band was getting some much well-deserved recognition/attention and started working with Vagrant, a much larger label than our beloved Ghostly home. I was quite honored to be involved working with the band, as I was a fan of their work since their debut and really enjoyed their music. I was amazed looking over the stems (these are the unmixed tracks of a song) and realizing how much sound Ben could generate from just one single guitar track, it was pretty impressive actually. He had such a unique style, the perfect mix of someone who was REALLY good at playing instruments technically, but restrained enough to just play what was right for the song. That maturity takes years for some, and he was already doing it early on. I remember Ben kind of having to make it a point to get my version released (it ended added as an iTunes exclusive), perhaps he thought it would have probably gotten shelved had he not been championing it. It really meant a lot, he had nothing to gain from it - a remix by some obscure techno dude won’t really make or break any sales - but he cared too much about the overall aesthetic of the band’s sound and made it a point to get it out there. That was the kind of artist he was: someone who deeply cared about his craft and wasn’t going to compromise his vision.
Last time we saw each other (which honestly feels like yesterday) we hung out at the legendary Crocodile here in Seattle, sometime in Spring 2012. We talked about all of our upcoming touring dates, joked about how we were always missing/trailing each other on the road, shared horror flight/airport stories (like explaining the folks at the security check-in what all these weird pedals and gadgets are for), etc.
I didn’t hear from him in a while, except for brief social media interactions. I figured he was just like everyone else, busy doing his thing. Little did I know it was so serious. I saw a photo he posted with some meds back in February, the day some oncology testing was happening. I sent him a brief note in support, wishing him well. A few days later, there was an official announcement and well, we all know the story. I was really rooting for him. Wish I have had the courage to be intrusive and visited while he was in the hospital – I really didn’t want to bother him or his family. I’m utterly sad, this was just too soon, although knowing the scope of his illness, I’m relieved he is no longer suffering and is at peace now. At just 35, he accomplished what most won’t in a lifetime. I’m grateful to have known him and will cherish the brief time we spent together.
I’m going to miss you Ben, thanks for all the kindness, inspiration, advice and the amazing music you gave us.
Rest in Peace
Rafael Anton Irisarri
Every year, my wife and I spend some time making a mix for our close friends. We base all the tracks for our mix on all the concerts we saw throughout the year and enjoyed the most.
This year we decided to keep it at 13 tracks, so in some instances, we’ve selected songs that contain two artists we saw by themselves, like Mirrorring (we saw both Grouper and Tiny Vipers play separately), or Efterklang & Nils Frahm. I know, it’s a little bit of a loophole, but who’s keeping tabs?
2013 was a great year for music, though a very bleak one I reckon, filled with anxiety and uncertainty, which in turn was reflected on many of this year’s releases.
I look forward to see what 2014 brings. It’s already promising to be a pretty exciting first fraction, with an upcoming European tour and Substrata: LONDON in January; a new ORCAS album in the Spring, and an ever increasing studio work schedule.
To all of my regular listeners: THANK YOU for supporting my works and making what I love to do possible.
Wish you all a Happy New Year!
Rafael Anton Irisarri
Seattle. Winter 2013.
0:00 Mirrorring - Fell Sound
6:10 Andy Stott - Numb
12:50 Lusine - By This Sound
17:54 Raime - Told And Collapse
23:52 Jacaszek - White Wind
27:38 Yagya - Sleepygirl (The Sight Below rmx)
32:38 Anna Von Hausswolff - Deathbed
40:56 Spiritualized - Stay With Me
45:58 Benoit Pioulard - Margin
49:10 Noveller - Ends
52:31 Peter Broderick - Below It
56:26 Efterklang - Dreams Today (feat Nils Frahm)
59:20 Hauschka - Zahnlucke
This was quite the year for adventurous and exploratory music.
Here are my favorite albums purchased in 2013 - I’m not ranking them, just compiling what i loved listening to this past year. There are a bunch of lovely records I worked on and didn’t include here - it just feels too self-absorbed on my part and didn’t want to blow my own horn. Anyway, buy these if you get a chance, they are all great!
My Bloody Valentine – MBV
Check out my full album review here. ‘Nuff said.
Seefeel – Quique (Medical Records reissue)
20 years later and it still sounds as amazing as ever. There is something to be said about music that can capture your full attention for this long. And the fact it was put out by a great Seattle-based label is icing on the cake.
Anna Von Hausswolff – Ceremony
Nordic Dark Empress (quite literally actually: she’s the daughter of CM Von Hausswolff from The Kingdoms of Elgaland-Vargaland). Her voice is something truly special. Kate Bush comparisons do no justice to how great and unique this one really is and I hope more people pay attention. This one deserves it!!
Grouper – The Man Who Died In His Boat
Another amazing album added to the collection this year. Her set at Substrata 1.3 was one of the best concerts I saw in 2013.
Jóhann Jóhannsson – Prisoners (OST)
This better get an Oscar nomination. Amazing film and score. Haven’t seen such a great interplay between a script and score since 2007’s “There Will be Blood”. Jóhannsson at his best.
Noveller – No Dreams
Fräulein Lipstate had a terrific year, not only toured as part of NPR’s Radiolab backing band but release a lovely album of reverb-drenched pieces. I got to hear some of this album live at Substrata in 4.1 surround sound and I got to say, damn, she blew up the Chapel.
TM404 – TM404
There is something mesmerizing about Tille’s videos as TM404. He sets the experiment in motion and let the machines do their thing. And the results are wonderful.
Harold Budd – Perhaps (Root Strata reissue)
Vinyl reissue of the maestro’s 2007 live improv album. It’s a treasure to cherish and listen to many times on repeat.
James Blackshaw & Lubomyr Melnyk - The Watchers
I saw Lubomyr and James live earlier this year in Köln. They played separately and were equally amazing. This answered the question: what would happen if they played together? Pure beauty.
Miles – Faint Hearted
Miles restoring my faith in visceral techno one album at a time. Thank you sir!
Pan•American - Cloud Room, Glass Room
A very welcomed LP to my collection this year. The addition of Steven Hess to the official line-up really shows here. Hope Mark Nelson keeps releasing music like this in the future!
Labradford - Prazilion LP
While on subject, the reissue of Kranky’s very first LP was a lovely surprise. Happy 20 Mr. Kranky!