The album has a mystical quality that lulls and sways with imaginative orchestrations and narratives. On “Time Immemorial” dreamy whispers drift over seas of ornate violins and gently prodding piano numbers, contrasting with the drama of “Fortune Teller,” a bouncier venture into snappy, Persion percussion that spotlights Irglová’s lush vocal versatility. Muna speaks an arcane language of its own, but maintains a cohesion threaded together by a common theme: growing up. Of the record, Irglová says, “The result is from the process of growing up — going through difficult times, getting lost and feeling left alone to find my way back.”
It’s much the same on Muna, which very, very obviously – to a fault, almost – uses those tools to disguise the fact that it’s actually a gospel record (Irglova says her references for this album were Conversations With God and, would you believe, Jesus Christ Superstar).
Examples? The echoing church bells and chamber choir on Point of Creation. Songs named Mary and Gabriel. Oh, and the appearance of the Lord’s Prayer on Without A Map, which unfortunately has the opposite effect of the gravitas it tries to lend. But God help us if Irglova doesn’t swathe it in the warmest blanket. Time Immemorial is a devastating meditation on the state of the world today (“all we ever wanted was to come home to ourselves”), with a finale that will leave even the hardest of heart with a lump in their throat.
But if all of this sounds a bit staid and worthy, rest assured Muna doesn’t sit still or let up for a second. As the epic strings of The Leading Bird die down, Irglova starts experimenting with Iranian vibes on Fortune Teller (not quite a success) and breathless proselytising on Remember Who You Are. But Irglova packs a little too much into every song, and it does become ever so slightly cumbersome. If Muna means remember, it wouldn’t be too much to ask her to recall her simpler roots and let some uncluttered melodies do the talking.
12.11.14 Berlin, Frannz Club