Mirabilis

Sub Rosa

  • AllMusic Rating
    7
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

To say that Middle Pillar act Mirabilis also fits in on Projekt with its second album would be to understate a bit -- they almost seem designed for it, at least that part of the label that has consistently shown a soft spot for medievally inclined performers via the Dead Can Dance template, no bad thing when done right (and no question they do it especially well on the instrumental/wordless vocal piece "Undercurrent"). So if the photos of the core duo of Dru Allen and Summer Bowman, both singers as well as instrumentalists, suggests a session either for Propaganda magazine or an SCA flyer, that shouldn't put off anyone not dyed in that particular wool. A mix of originals and reinterpretations suggestive of new labelmates Unto Ashes on their many albums, Sub Rosa hits all the expected sonic marks -- moody, minimal arrangements, stately drumming -- but relies on Allen's and Bowman's excellent vocals at the core. Their singing has the same clear, strong feel to it as the underrated Lynn Canfield's does, and on a cappella songs like "The Flowers Pressed Down," one of several such pieces on Sub Rosa, the effect is entrancing. Among the other originals, a standout is "The Journey," sung and co-written by guest performer Cindy Adzuki Chang in memory of a departed relative. The covers, meanwhile, include two jazz-age standards -- "Nature Boy" and "Angel Eyes," both given gently unnerving takes thanks to more a cappella arrangements (the latter also given a fake vinyl scratch for effect) -- as well as a faithful take on the Beatles' "Because." The fragility and calm singing of the original is thrown into fine relief by the singing here, suggesting less obvious roots to their approach.

blue highlight denotes track pick