Sonic Retreat

November 9 and 10

Curated by Colby Caldwell

The use of “found sounds” has a long history in music. Grounded in ideas developed by twentieth-century avant-garde composers such as John Cage (who had a vital connection to Black Mountain College), found sounds are used today in a wide range of musical modes. In this free workshop, participants will explore the mountains, rivers, and forests that surround Asheville, capturing found sounds with field-recording equipment and keeping a written and photographic journal of their discoveries. The workshop is open to all levels of experience.

Friday, 11/9: Participants will gather at REVOLVE in the afternoon to meet workshop leaders Rafael Anton Irisarri, Kima Moore, and Jess Speer. These sound artists will share experiences collecting sounds and developing practices to generate compositions, and will discuss how sound, environment, and the natural world offer new possibilities for composition. 

Saturday, 11/10: In the morning, the group will explore the Smoky Mountains, rivers, and forests gathering sounds. After the field trip, participants will meet to discuss the potential uses of their findings. Saturday night will culminate with a ticketed live concert by Rafael Anton Irisarri, who will premiere a new piece composed from sounds collected in the environs of Asheville. Irisarri will demonstrate the beauty of 4.1 surround-sound and will show how to incorporate field recordings of naturally occurring sounds to create imaginary environments and sonic landscapes. 

Follow-up: In December 2018, a month after the workshop, the sounds collected by participants during the sonic retreat will be fashioned into an hour-long sonic “diary” that will be posted on REVOLVE’s Bandcamp for free download.

Workshop Leaders

Rafael Anton Irisarri is a composer, record producer, multi-instrumental musician, mastering engineer, and curator. His works—utilizing bowed guitars, piano, strings, synths, field recordings, voices, electronic instruments, and more—have been published and performed internationally. Since the early 2000s, Irisarri has organized musical events in his home city of Seattle, including electronic music shows, experiential performances, and the Substrata music festival (which he founded in 2011). Irisarri is the principal member of the electronic act The Sight Below (with the Ghostly International label). As a performer, he has appeared at festivals around the world, including Sónar (Spain), MUTEK (Canada), TodaysArt (Netherlands), OpenFrame (Australia), and Unsound (Poland). As an audio engineer, Irisarri has worked with dozens of seminal artists, both in live performance and at his Black Knoll Studio in New York. Among his musical collaborators are Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto, Fennesz, Chris Frantz, Jacaszek, Julianna Barwick, Telefon Tel Aviv, Terry Riley, and many others.

Kimathi Moore, born in Paris and now based in Asheville, is an artist whose love for electronics and sound experimentations goes back to his childhood. Kima spends much of his time making field recordings and visiting abandoned railroads and buildings to gather found sounds.

Jess Speer is an Asheville-based artist whose work—which includes field recordings, paper-cut collage, performance, ’zines, and installations—touches on issues of ecology, community, history, mortality, and memory. Jess and her husband Peter perform under the name The Speers, primarily creating live improvisations with their library of LPs and modular synthesizers, locating hypnotic patterns in ordinary sounds.


821 Riverside Dr. #179
Asheville, NC 28801
1 (240) 298-9575