Release Date 06/11/2021
“We’ve been wanting to do this for a while,” says Markus Sieber. “This record is dedicated to the night hours. The hours when things calm down. At those times, a deeper quality of silence and listening can be perceived.”
The serene beauty of Mirabai Ceiba’s upcoming album The Quiet Hour is a timely antidote for our turbulent times. Gently plucked strings and beckoning textures lead the listener on an inward journey of calm centeredness. Angelika Baumbach’s voice wells up like an undulating stream, blossoming forth with sublime poetry. The deep, loving bond between Baumbach and her musical life partner—multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Markus Sieber (Aukai)—is palpable, as their instruments and voices intertwine on Mirabai Ceiba’s most intimate and meditative album to date.
The Quiet Hour is set for a June 11th release date via Spirit Voyage, with the serene new single and video "She" out now. "The song reflects an inner journey of a mature woman, a mother, who in the midst of her life opens a space where she can experience herself freely, allowing life, nature and the silence of being alone take her, embrace her, thus opening the way to deeper realms in herself, where in the beauty of no time, she finds herself anew, realizing that her own nurturing creative space is always there, available, she only needs to enter it."
As Sieber alluded to above, the duo opted for zen simplicity in their musical approach. There are no drums, percussion or programmed sequences on The Quiet Hour. And there’s much less reverb and other effects than on previous records. For the first time on record, the couple both played guitars. Usually guitars are more Sieber’s domain, along with other plucked lutes like the Latin American ronroco. And Baumbach’s masterful touch on harp and piano have always been staples of the Mirabai Ceiba sound.
“But two guitars together was a beautiful discovery,” Markus says. “We found that just two guitars already create so much of a musical landscape.”
What arises from this spare sonic palette are songs of rare fragility and expressiveness, such as the lead track, “She.” The song was written by Baumbach during a solitary mini-retreat. “I took a week off and I went on my own to a cabin just to have some space,” she says. “Because being with the family always is not easy, as a woman. I think it’s important for mothers to take creative space for ourselves. So I did that. As the week advanced, I came to a more quiet, transparent space within myself. I just sat down and started writing this poetry as a song. And it came out to be a very clear reflection of my experience there. We dedicate this song to all women—to remember to always reach out to the deep spaces within, those that nurture our wild free spirit.”
In keeping with the intimate mood of the project, Mirabai Ceiba worked with only a small coterie of close collaborators, who recorded their parts remotely from studios across the globe. Multi-instrumentalist Jamshied Sharifi co-produced the album with Sieber. Bogdan Djukic (violin/oud), Megan Gould (viola) and Eleanor Norton (cello) also contributed. Singer/songwriter Marketa Irglova sang harmonies with Baumbach on “Take On A Thousand Forms,” an evocative musical setting that Baumbach created for a poem by Johann Wolfgang Goethe. The album is mastered by Martyn Heyne, who has worked alongside the likes of Nils Frahm and Dustin O'Halloran.
“Basically the writing process was more individual this time,” Markus notes. “It was good that Angelika had more space to write songs. She wrote some really beautiful ones.”
Indeed, contemplative tranquility is often viewed from a feminine perspective on The Quiet Hour. A nurturing maternal energy runs through tracks like the tender “Harp Lullaby” and the beguiling mantra, “Ma,” that opens the album. But even when writing in isolation, Sieber and Baumbach ultimately arrive at a graceful balance of feminine and masculine—yin and yang—as expressed in the album’s other deeply-felt mantra track, “Ra Ma.” True lovers are never truly apart, as Angelika sings on her Spanish-language ballad “Que Quede Escrito.” No hay distancia en este mundo de almas—there is no distance in this world of souls.
In a time of pandemic isolation and uncertainty, The Quiet Hour shines like a beacon of hope and comfort. Guided by its serene cadences, we remember that solitude can be a source of strength, illumination and self-discovery. And by going within we find the connection to one another.