| Artist: Irfan|
CD Title: Irfan
Label: Noir Records
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
Irfan's dark, lush, traditional/world sound, incorporation of traditional melodies and lyrics, operatic male and female vocals, and blend of traditional and synthetic instrumentation finds them easily lumped into the group of bands that warrant comparison to Dead Can Dance. Where they differ from most bands in that crowd, however, is in the fact that their self-titled debut could easily go toe to toe with just about any Dead Can Dance release. Hailing from Bulgaria and incorporating Balkan instrumentation into their work, the 4-piece blends the modern and traditional, creating a moody, beautiful web of diverse and captivating music over a spectacular 9 track set.
The disc begins with the beautiful melancholia of "Monsalvato", over 11 minutes of lush synth strings forming a base for excellent traditional string instrumentation accents and remarkable male and female vocals. "Salome" combines captivating eastern vocals with layers of traditional percussion, sinister strings, and sitar-like drones. Based on a motive from a traditional Bulgarian song, the stark "Elena" blends plucked lute, flute, and female vocals into a spectacular traditional folk blend. The droning chant-like layered vocals of "Return to Eden" give way to a highly percussive masterpiece with memorable vocal yelps, while "Otkrovenie" returns to moody synth string and operatic female vocal territory, albeit now driven by strong, steady percussion.
The traditional 13th century Bulgarian "Gospodi Pomilui" is a very well performed layered vocal piece void of instrumentation, while "Peregrinatio" is, perhaps, the disc's most modern offering, a foreboding ethereal voyage through snaking dark synth strings. "Outremer" is a swirling ambient mood piece, flute interacting with reverb-drenched male vocal drones and excellent female vocal work before giving way to church bells and traditional male chants, apparently religious in nature. The traditional folk guitar work, angelic vocals, and light synth work of the exceptional "Santa Maria", complete with 13th century Spanish lyrics, closes the album beautifully.
From start to finish, Irfan's self-titled debut is nothing short of amazing. It's immaculately produced, incredibly performed, and highly moving, from the stark emotion and atmosphere of its more ethereal passages to the power of its more percussive pieces. Fans of Dead Can Dance, Lisa Gerrard, or any similar artists should run, not walk, to get this one.
Noir Records: www.ferret.com/noir
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