(20 January 2006) The luscious Mediaeval Baebes have elaborated on their beautiful chorale sound in their fifth album, Mirabilis (Nettwerk America (USA) 0 6700 30415-2, 2005). The title is derived from a Latin word with
pre-Christian or pagan origins that was used in the Mediaeval period to describe a supernatural force on the fringes of this world. The Baebes certainly transport the listener to another world with their Latin, Gaelic, and old English hymns.
This octet is comprised of singers Maple Bee, Teresa Casella, Marie Findley, Cylindra Sapphire, Katharine Blake, Audrey Evans, Emily Ovenden and Rachel Van Asch. They have a range of rich harmonies that seem to envelop the soul. The music renditions are very enchanting and hauntingly beautiful.
The Baebes have expounded upon their previous chorale sound, bringing about a sound that has ancient roots and weaves a rich tapestry of beautiful resonance. Katherine
Blake, founder of the Baebes and musical director, is still the principal composer. The Baebes are currently adding to the diversity of the sound by continuing to create their own material. The group utilizes a combination of period and modern instrumentation which synchronizes with the layers of these talented women's vocals.
The eighteen track CD still magnifies the Baebes signature sound and adds new approaches to keep their music fresh by adding elements ranging from Mediaeval traditional folk sounds to an African type percussive chant that has an hypnotic quality. Emily Ovenden's "Temptasyon" excels with its soaring three-part harmony and lush accompaniment of modern and ancient strings. The Baebes cover of "Scarborough Fayre" certainly has their special touch and is a wonderfully melodic addition to the CD. One of the album's standout tracks is the opening, serene "Star of the Sea." "Come My Sweet" has a more modern, dance edge. The eight songstresses easily show their versatility of sound.
The ensemble's music seems doesn't categorize easily and falls somewhere between classical and pop, new age and folk. The women maintain a sensualism that combine
elements of Western European myth and folkloric tradition. They have added a new language to their repertoire by singing in Swedish for the first time on "Märk Hur
The intense layering of lush vocal harmonies which support the lead highlights their passionate arrangements. The listener can escape to a dreamy otherworld with the
sophisticated vocals and captivating instrumentation. The mysterious and haunting undertones abound throughout this CD which continue to lure the listener to another time and place.
The Mediaeval Baebes delicious blend of layered vocals, ethereal sounds, and enticing instrumentation expresses the essence of this talented ensemble. They have a time-proven
and trusted approach to their musical selections and certainly live up to their Mediaeval name. Their sound beckons the listener and the music
sweeps you away to another time and place. Mirabilis takes you on a fantastic, magical journey that shouldn't be missed.