The Sight Below's debut album, 2008's magnificent "Glider", was an anonymous, low-key release, consisting of nearly an hour's worth of droning ambient guitar with effects and minimal techno beats. The album basically did one thing extremely well, and was one of my favorite albums of the year. Since that album's release, The Sight Below has been revealed to be a project of composer Rafael Anton Irisarri. In addition, this second album features a few tracks in collaboration with Simon Scott of Slowdive (fitting, as Slowdive is an obvious influence on the project, and Irisarri has covered "When The Sun Hits" during The Sight Below live performances). This album sees The Sight Below taking its sound into a few new directions.
The tracks on "Glider" were improvised using guitar, beats and effects, but "It All Falls Apart" was more carefully constructed, using synths and other instruments in addition to what was used on the first album. Not all of the tracks here have beats, but oddly enough, on tracks like "Fervent" I almost feel like I can subliminally sense beats anyway. "Through The Gaps In The Land", one of the tracks featuring Simon Scott, progresses over nine minutes, with the beat dropping out and coming back in when appropriate. As with a few other tracks on the album, it also features some incidental crackling sounds that remind me of some sort of field recording, like snow or ice perhaps, which adds to the overall feel of the music.
Clearly the highlight of the album for me is "Burn Me Out From The Inside", which places synths front and center, along with the signature beats and guitars. Not a major change to the sound, but it just results in something completely blissful. Towards the end of the album is the first Sight Below track to feature vocals, a cover of Joy Division's "New Dawn Fades". I will admit a personal bias here; I like Joy Division fine enough, I own all their albums, but I'm pretty much tired of them and never feel like listening to them (I'm way more of a New Order guy). I'll also completely embarrass myself and say that I'm more familiar with Moby's cover of "New Dawn Fades" than the original. Having said that, this cover, sung by Jesy Fortino of Tiny Vipers, is fantastic; the ambience and lack of bass or drums definitely adds another dimension to the Joy Division song, and of course the lyrics and vocals do the same for The Sight Below's sound.
The album ends with its longest piece, the 13 minute "Stagger", which features the crackly sound mentioned before, as well as some submerged dubby Basic Channel inspired chords slowly blipping towards the forefront. There's also a drum machine beat, but it's not the signature 4/4 thump, it's a slow ticking that resembles dripping water more than a rhythmic beat. This serves as a fitting end to another excellent album from a relatively new artist who has already proven to be a master of his craft. 8/10 -- Paul Simpson (7 April, 2010)