Sub Rosa

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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.

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