Review for Mirabai Ceiba's 'Agua de Luna Album', June 19
On 'Agua de Luna', Mirabai Ceiba transcends their chant roots with an album combining ethereal moods, plangent, folkloric instrumentation.
I was initially introduced to Mirabai Ceiba on the release of their album Awakened Earthback back in 2011.
I was intrigued by their name. Mirabai being the 15/16th century devotional poet who composed over 1,000 devotional bhajans, expressing her love for lord Krishna. Ceiba is the sacred Latin American tree. The tree plays an important part in the mythologies of pre Columbian cultures. It grows very tall and wide with deep roots and is never cut.
Mirabai Ceiba consists of Angelica Baumbach on vocal, harp, harmonium and piano and Marcus Sieber on guitar and vocals. They met at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, Uk back in 2001. At the time Marcus was working as an actor in Berlin and Angelica was traveling and singing with her Harp and lived in Mexico. Angelica later travelled to Germany staying with her uncle there and asked Markus to accompany her on guitar. From there they started making and writing music together, later traveling to Barcelona to perform.
Angelica, being part of the Kundalini Yoga community, was discovered by GuruGanesha at a festival and was asked to record for Spirit Voyage, which has now become much more than just a record label. Their first album Flores was the result of this first recording back in 2004.
Their latest album Mirabai Ceiba Live in Concert is their first live recording to be released. It is a sumptuous offering, consisting of 14 tracks, which is a delight to both the ears and heart. I found the quality extraordinary, given these are live recordings taken from their European tour, Mexico concert and Sat Nam Fest.
Their original style of World devotional music blends Gurmukh mantras from the kundalini yoga tradition with traditional songs in both English and Spanish that reflect their open hearted warmth. Blending native American and European traditions with some lyrics derived from the works of Rumi, Khalil Gibran, Thich Nhat Hahn and more. This album over two CDs is the next best thing if you cannot join them at their concerts and workshops. Their European Tour has just got underway and I’m sure you will find them at a Sat Nam Fest later in the year. I would encourage you to sing along to the recording and maybe invite friends over to share in the experience. What brings this album to life is that it was recorded in front of an audience and you can feel that energy suffused throughout the album. If you are fortunate enough to see them live I would still recommend this album to relive that very special experience again.
They are joined on the album and tours by an eclectic mix of outstanding musicians. Of note to me having seen them twice in concert in London, UK, is Bogdan Djukic on violin. His arrangement at the beginning of La Luna is sublime. The lyrics are based on an ancient Zen Poem and it is sung in Spanish. The list also includes Benjamin Wittman on percussion, Leonardo Nieto on Sitar, Jesus Mejia on guitar, Megan Gould on Viola, and Ramesh Kannan on percussion.
I enjoyed their arrangement of Pavan Guru on this album. Their gentle harmonies, Angelica’s vocals, harp and the sitar set it apart from other versions I’ve heard.
"Tells The Clouds to Weep" is another song based upon the poetry of Rumi, it is so gentle with Markus taking the lead vocal and Angelica adding her harmonies and piano. Beautiful in its simplicity, yet it still takes your breath away. "Oshun" is a track which really takes off with the audience in Barcelona and again Bogdan and his violin add to the atmosphere on this recording.
Another track which resonated with me is "Inside the Majesty" or the ‘rainy song’ as Markus calls it. Perhaps because we have had so much rain here in the UK this year... It opens with a simple guitar riff and builds into something both beguiling and intriguing with their harmonies resonating on a different plane.
"Despierta" is a track sung in Spanish based on the poetry of Rumi. It slowly builds with Angelica and her harp intertwined with the guitars and Bogdan adds his own inimitable violin before Marcus and his harmonies eventually build into a crescendo which lifts our spirits.
There are so many wonderful tracks on this generous offering to mention them all, but I assure you all are worthy and they will not disappoint. The production value brought to the album by Jamshied Sharifi is outstanding, he also plays keyboards and adds background vocals to some of the tracks.
It’s now a week since their concert in London, and I’m thankful I have the live recording to remember that very special evening.
Do check out their you tube channel to see what a visual feast they offer there to accompany their music.