Global folk to calm to the mind.
Mirabai Ceiba is a duo I wasn’t aware of until recently and their calming folk music couldn’t have come at a better time. Bringing together guitars, harps, South American flutes and meditative vocals, this is peace as an album.
Angelika Baumbach leads the way with her calming vocals that are subtly layered like a drifting wind. It takes a lot of effort to layer vocals in a way that feels natural still but across ‘The Quiet Hour’, it is one of the albums’ many strengths. The other big asset is her harp playing. ‘Harp Lullaby’ for example sees it take centre stage like a Loreena McKennitt piece. Elsewhere it adds to the double guitar and string arrangements creating a plucked and strummed cascade of musical notes.
Markus Sieber brings guitars and flutes and offers up a more international flavour to things. The album is dedicated to the night hours and with the album devoid of drums, it’s about extracting a sway from other instruments. ‘Take On A Thousand Forms’ features Markéta Irglová guesting on vocals for a beautifully sensitive ballad for the night too. With all these different influences seeping in, Mirabai Ceiba is able to sound a bit Celtic, a bit South American and a bit forest faun. They are everywhere and nowhere and that makes their sound distinctive and very curious to listen to. This also comes out with the different languages used across the album too.
Standout tracks for me are ‘Ma’ and ‘Ra Ma’ which feel like sister songs. They feel like mirror pools, gently casting magic as the chanting vocals, guitars, harp, accordion and shakers evoke a meditative state. It’s the kind of music Irina Mikhailova might produce in her calmer albums. ‘The Time Given To Us’ is a warm embrace with a distinctly Irish flavour to it whilst ‘She’ and ‘Take On A Thousand Forms’ balance folk with singer-songwriter vibes to them. Purity is the key throughout and the album stays zen-like and direct with its melodies and feelings.
Easily one of the warmest and calming albums I’ve heard in 2021, Mirabai Ceiba has created gentle folk that sounds like it belongs to the world. Using accents and instruments from different continents really gives it a global folk feel. Have this one on repeat and you’ll be breathing deeper and letting that tension go in no time at all. Delightful.
Recommended track: Take on A Thousand Forms
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