Irfan are a band that has absolutely blown me away since I discovered them right at the start of 2019. Their world fusion mix of dark folklore music takes on Balkan, Medieval, Near East music and a fair bit of chanting too. It reminds me of some of the late 80’s versions of Dead Can Dance mixed with Faun and Unto Ashes – but certainly with their own sound.
Irfan’s 2018 album ‘Roots’ may only contain six tracks but each one is its own treat. The overall feel of the album has a Persian flavour to things but opens with the vocal chant of ‘Momistvo’. It showcases the mystical and ethereal side of the bands work and the singing is utterly sublime. The male voices take on a monk like hum whilst the female voice takes centre stage to call at you like a siren. This moves quickly into the percussive ‘More, ta nali’ which moves towards a Balkan folk style of music but with an ethnic percussion set. The rhythm here charges the track and with the Bulkan style of twisty vocals, the whole piece feels like an angered snake ready to attack.
‘Rusa’ and ‘Dyulber Yana’ feel like sister tracks in a way as they merge medieval instruments like hurdy gurdy’s and ancient fiddles with eastern instruments like Turkish flutes and darbuka drums. It’s this continues crossover matched with hypnotic vocals that make the album sound so unique and fresh. With these two tracks being more mid-tempo, albeit quite complex in places, ‘Emeriga’ turns up the tension with heavy chants, darker tones on the chords and an overall more pressing and frantic tone. What stays throughout though is a rhythmic bounce which keeps everything so dramatic but so dynamic too. It’s something I find only the top bands of these genres master and Irfan has it perfected. The closing track ‘Lyube le’ has Irfan signing off with a quiet roar. The more ethereal ambience that swirls around the drums, oud and strings lets the ever flexible vocal chords of the Darina to sweep you away to yesteryear. It’s a stunningly understated finale that captures the resilience but sombre euphoria that Irfan create with their music.
‘Roots’ is a superb album with my only criticism being I wanted more! Irfan seem to be getting back to making studio albums again after several film soundtracks so I hope they continue to astound my ears and move my heart with more of this wonderful timeless music.
Recommended track: Emeriga
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