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In 2001 we were introduced to Mirabilis on Projekt Records' holiday album Excelsis 3 - A Prelude maxi CD with their rendition of "Riu Riu Chiu".  With this introduction, the stage was set for this spectacular new project.  Summer Bowman of The Machine in the Garden and Dru Allen of This Ascension form this group with a goal of including other talented guest vocalists and musicians for dynamic Neo-Classical project.

The name Mirabilis is Latin for something that is wonderful, miraculous, or unusual.  This describes this unique project perfectly with the unique combination of ethereal vocals, classical and traditional instruments.  The music is grounded in the vocals, often harmonized and creating a unique instrument as accapella songs often do.  While the overall style is based on Neo-Classical, the range of genres present include some of the dark and mysterious Gothic tones, Ethereal siren-songs and Ambient soundscapes.  There is definitely something in Mirabilis for fans of any of these genres.

Since 2001, this duo has been busy working on material which has been released in the form of a self-titled 7" on The Fossil Dungeon and in early 2004 Pleiades was released on Middle Pillar Presents.  They also had an exclusive remix of "In The Dark" appear on the Eclectica compilation which is a dance-friendly, yet beautifully rendered mix, truly something that shouldn't be missed.  These two releases along with the compilation appearances set the stage for what could be a long and promising career for this duo as well as any additional artists that join their ranks.  This became more of a reality with their sophomore album Sub Rosa and a re-release of Pleiades released jointly between Middle Pillar and Projekt. We'll continue to look forward to even more from this duo. In the meantime, be sure to catch selections on the Gothic Paradise radio shows.

Sub Rosa - Review

Ahhh... it's great to finally have the follow-up full-length album from these angelic muses. This album is everything that we could have hoped for from these two and more. The music is accompanied by a beautiful package of lyrics and info, photos and artwork. On the disc we get no less than 16 stunningly beautiful tracks hearkening back to old-world medieval and folk songs of ages past, though many are original pieces written by this duo and a couple of guests.

From beginning to end the music is haunting and captivating as they spin their web of subtle synths, old-world instruments and lush vocals. Starting with "World Indifferent" the percussion is moving and the music is stunning on this piece as it immediately sets the stage and gives way to the haunting piece "The Journey". Mesmerizing vocals become the solid foundation for the album, especially on mostly accapella tracks like "Nature Boy" and "The Flowers Pressed Down" amongst others. Though this foundation remains true and an anchor on others when the percussion and instruments kick in.

The album has a nice range and depth to it as we drift through these pieces and musical styles. I think it's apparent they had fun on several songs like the accapella track "il est bel et bon" which is a fun little play on the vocals, or "odyle" which is more of an ancient treasure and then the piece "angels eyes" sounds like an old record playing on an old phonograph player from the 40's. So it's not only a beautiful work, but fun and enjoyable in many ways.

As the album winds down we're featured with a cover of "Because" from The Beatles which isn't exactly something you would expect to hear on an album of this style. With that we're left in much the same way we began the album with subtle percussion and synths accenting the lamenting vocals on the title track "Sub Rosa". This provides a nice finale in and of itself, but it's not over yet as we get a great dance-friendly remix of "World Indifferent" to wrap up the album in style. I love medieval ethereal music like this duo does, but I have to admit that when you throw it together with some modern electronics and a dance-friendly beat, it's really hard to do better than a remix like this, or the previous remix from this band "In The Dark". I hope it's not ironic that my favorite tracks from this duo are their two remixed pieces. But when you start with something excellent and add a nice mix to it, it can really be something unforgettable.

With that we wrap up the album and the listener is left breathless from the stunning beauty on this album. I think this will go down as yet another classic from this group to be remember for many years to come.

Rating: 5/5

Pleiades - Review

Once I received word of a full-length album from this collaborative project, it really gave me something to look forward to.  And now it's out and has been receiving positive reviews and here at Gothic Paradise, I just have to chime in with my own positive review of this excellent work.

I think the easiest place to start with this album is just by introducing the excellent talents of the participating musicians on this album.  Obviously, the backbone and founding members are Summer Bowman and Dru Allen.  Both contribute vocals and musical instruments and their own unique styles and talents.  Summer's haunting vocals often carve through the soundwaves such as in the mysterious, beautiful and aptly named "In The Dark" as well as another favorite of mine, "Hide Away".  Dru contributes her maginificent talents that we've grown to love over the past decade with This Ascension on many beautiful tracks, also haunting and beautiful on "In The Dark" and harmonizing beautifully on the Spanish traditional piece "Riu Riu Chiu".  We can't forget the contributions of Matson Belle taking the lead vocals on "Invocation of the Sun", with childlike splendor.  Regeana Morris of The Changelings fame contributes her vocals and additional instruments on "Ripple".  And finally, Rebecca Colleen Miller takes the lead on "Mysterium", one of many included traditional pieces from ages long past.

The combination of all of these vocalists, the magnificent music and atmosphere just create something absolutely stunning.  Words that come to mind are dreamy, haunting, moody, beautiful and many, many more that just bring the best and most heartfelt emotions to mind.  From the original title track written by Mirabilis with the slow, ambient-like soundscapes to the deep and moving track "In The Dark" with the tribal drums and thick atmospheres.  This album is just one piece after another of deep, haunting beauty.

The bottom line with this album - if you enjoy any style of Ethereal or Neo-Classical music, this is for you.  You will love it!

Rating: 5/5

Labels: Middle Pillar Presents
The Fossil Dungeon
Projekt Records

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