Although both hail from Montreal, a collaboration between Suuns and Jerusalem In My Heart isn’t one that many would have predicted at the start of the year. Since emerging in 2010, Suuns have impressed with their taut, channelled synth-bolstered rock, culminating in second album Images du Futur being nominated for the 2013 Polaris Prize. Radwan Ghazi Moumneh meanwhile, under his Jerusalem In My Heart guise, has pursued a far more abstract and unusual path, mixing traditional Middle Eastern music with esoteric drones and avant-rock.
The music on the self-titled Suuns and Jerusalem In My Heart sees the two converge in the ensuing middle ground, bringing their own distinct qualities to the collaboration, but also pushing themselves in unexpected directions as a result. The origins of the album can be traced back to the end of 2012 when they spent a week together in a Montreal studio. The seven songs that make up the album were debuted at the 2013 Pop Montreal festival and were recorded over the next 12 months.
2amoutu I7tirakan opens the album, irregular pulses being layered over warped electronics before guitar drones take over. By the end it contains hints of some of the motorik guitar sounds featured on Images du Futur but reaches out further and with greater freedom. The flashing barrage of guitars that make up Metal meanwhile are even rawer.
Seif sees the first overt Jerusalem In My Heart feel creep into the album, the first sign of the Arabic vocals that made 2013’s Mo7it Al-Mo7it such an engagingly and intriguingly different listen. As it progresses it also slowly begins to exert an Animal Collective feel.
The low key electronics of In Touch show that it’s not going to be a one paced outing, while Moumneh’s low-lying vocal drifts back into play. Gazelles In Flight offers an immediate contrast as flurries of clicks and flickering percussion emerge suddenly before twin streams of propulsive and fragmented synths take hold.
Leyla signals a return to understatement the deftly outlined guitar melody matching the soft, carefully delivered vocal. It’s a quiet oasis of introspection compared to the tracks that sit either side. The buzzing pulsations and driving guitars of 3attam Babey interrupt any sense of reflection, and also prove that, despite the musical swings back and forth, it’s still an album that sits together well.
In many ways it offers lessons in collaborative best practice, with individual sonic identities preserved, yet with a willingness to divert from usual methods on both sides proves it’s much more than just a stop-gap in between their respective next albums.