Combining Scandinavian and Bosnian culture, duo IRAH have produced a mystical record, with hints of Portishead and Zola Jesus influences shining through in their recently released Diamond Grid. Consisting of Copenhagen-based Stine Grøn (vocals) and Bosnian’s Adi Zukanovi? (keyboards) there is a universal sound to their record, which renders it soul-touching and readable by most cultures. Drawing from both Zukanovic’s Bosnian and Grøn’s Danish heritage, juxtaposing the multitude of musical traditions, with a spiritual dimension, there is something sentimental and touching about these nine tracks.
Adi was born in Sarajevo in Bosnia but left for Denmark with his family as a four-year-old when the war broke out. At his refugee centre, Adi found a small keyboard in the playroom, which has led him to where he now is. Years later, Adi is one of Denmark’s most sought after pianists and keyboardists, arranging for some of Denmark’s most celebrated symphony orchestras. Stine was brought up in Denmark and took up singing as a young child. Ethereal, her vocals have developed profoundly over the years, culminating this mystical and stunningly compiled album.
Lyrically, Diamond Grid explores existential crises on both human and political levels – those close to IRAH’s heart and those affecting the wider world. Throughout the LP contemporary themes and traditional sounds fuse with a transcendental spirituality that flows through all tracks, enabling the other-worldly, enchanting elements.They were joined on the record by Seb Rochford (drums), Fredrik Lundin (flute) and Mathias Wolf Andreasen (drums on Unity of Gods). The album was recorded mostly at Sauna Studios in Copenhagen and produced by IRAH in collaboration with fellow Dane Mads Brinch Nielsen.
Opener Dream Self, with lyrics like “we got all these stars that grow underneath the conscious rose,” is not only poetic but establishes the ethereal sound of the record, as she sings about the universe and more natural surroundings. Matrix is enigmatic, a slow-starter, gradually throbbing, as we stick with it. Unity of Gods has a more unusual sound to the rest of the album, perhaps more akin to Radiohead’s Where I End And You Begin than any other tracks from Diamond Grid. But this demonstrates the profoundly universal aspects of this record. With every listen these songs seem to seep into your veins making it one of the more beguiling releases of 2019.
Diamond Grid is out now, via Tambourhinoceros.