Illumination (Released May 2009)
The Mediaeval Baebes may be an unknown quantity in my music world, but they have been around for an impressive 12 years, during which time they have performed all over the world, sold 450,000 records, and won an Ivor Novello Award. As their band name suggests though, this will be quite a different review for yours truly.
The all female group have created a sound which puts me in mind of many things. The buzz words entering my head include mystical, magical, traditional, ritual, and in some cases regal. All these words are reflected in the lyrics, and the vivid images they portray, many of which have been adapted from ancient texts. This is where the written lyrics/translations in the album booklet come in handy. I’d say it’s an essential tool to help you relate to this all girl group. Given their band name, their musical style didn’t come as too much of a surprise, though it was interesting to hear the array of instruments they used to create their own blend of gypsy/folk/traditional sounds. In terms of vocals I enjoyed Katherine Blake’s the most, and the group harmonies. My only criticism in terms of vocal was that sometimes it lacked a little depth, and Bev Lee Harling reminds me a little too much of Bjork, other than that they are all good singers.
When it comes to the overall song, there were several tracks on the album that stood out for me. One of these was ‘Ecce Chorus Virginum’, which was well arranged and quite fun to listen too. There was also ‘Suscipe Flos Florem’ with a stunning, almost choral like intro, and ‘I Sing Of A Maiden’ which I could easily picture being performed at a Tudor Feast. It’s a very different album, and one which I think would also work well as an educational tool, providing students with an education in several different areas. Though I have made my comment and critique on this group, in some ways it’s hard to know what to make of something so different, but different isn’t always a bad thing. With a 12 year career behind them, The Mediaeval Baebes are obviously testament to this.
For more information on this unique, all female group, please visit their website at www.mediaevalbaebes.com