Occasionally you’ll stumble across musicians where everything just effortlessly clicks into place for you. IRAH is the latest one that has done that for me with her new album ‘Diamond Grid’. It is the perfect balance of light and darkness, weaving meditative synth work with chamber pop and a medieval witch vibe. The duo Stine (vocals) and Adi (synths) are superbly in synch.
The album switches across these states effortlessly from start to finish. One moment you’ll be enjoying the ballad-like undertones of ‘Dream Self’ before you headrush into the synth-heavy chants of ‘Siu Hinama’. All the while IRAH’s vocals and melodies convey rich darkness and uncertainty whilst simultaneously sounding innocent and pristine. It’s a heady combination and when it all combines with epic tracks like ‘Polluted Hearts’ it feels cathartic.
In the quieter moments like ‘Cinematic’, all the instrumentation quiets down to a hushed chill-out vibe that could rival Mandalay or Kate Bush’s Sensual World. My personal favourite ‘Worship the Sun’ kicks off as an industrial drone before exploding into an anthemic cartwheel of synths, drums and voices that ricochet around you at speed. IRAH is able to balance the mystic and the emotive and come out with her own unique vibe. Elsewhere ‘Sui’ is a sumptuous afterglow track with thick spacey synths that allow IRAH’s voice to really sparkle. ‘Unity of Gods’ is top tier alternative chamber pop. Kooky piano riffs and tense yet mysterious vocals spiral ever more passionately as the track evolves. The industrial ‘Matrix’ feels like it could happily belong alongside an acoustic Chelsea Wolfe album as its so dark and dense with noise and growl. A special mention for the drummer for the album who really injects so much life into all the darker, more aggressive tracks.
It’s not often I feel compelled to buy an artist’s back catalogue but that is exactly what I did after my 3rd listen of Diamond Grid in 2 days. It is such a rollercoaster of an album. I was there hanging on with IRAH on every word, pulse and boom whilst picking apart what was pop and what was traditional ceremony sections. Easily my favourite discovery of 2019. This album will be vying for my album of the year.
Recommended track: Worship the Sun
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