Having first encountered Mimi Novic via Dream House: The Journey, an album designed to act as the sonic platform for guided meditation which saw her collaborating with David Courtney, it was great to find new music with her name on in the review pile. This time out, she is working with renowned violinist Edward Fokker and the music comes in the form of curated classical pieces across which Novic casts her vocal spell.
The Seven Prayers are seven classical pieces chosen for their ability to beguile and charm, soothe and relax in their own right, already familiar sounds, soft and romantic from some of the best-known names in classical music. To this Novic’s voice acts as the focal point, something that is both to be concentrated on yet absorbed via osmosis as you venture down a path towards calm and serenity.
As always with music made for such meditative sojourning, it is less about the specifics of the music found here and more about the overall effect that the combination of musical delicacy and lyrical attraction has on the listener, as that effect has to some degree be nothing short of mind-altering. In the gentlest sense of the meaning. That might sound dramatic, but it is such a drawing together of the poetic and the musical, the spiritual and the philosophical that creates the power, the suggestion, the gentle transcending beyond external awareness.
It is none other than Rachmaninoff who leads us in, Dance of Life is a supple and subtle blend of delicate piano and deft violin which sets the pace of the album perfectly, lyrical musings on life and loss, love and mourning, setting the tone of self-reflection and understanding that is the message being promoted here.
Whilst some of the music and the composers behind them might be familiar, such as Bach’s Ave Maria and Aria which are the final pieces in the song cycle, there are also plenty of names perhaps less well known outside classical circles. Francesco Maria Veracini adds moments of sweeping grace, Pietro Mascagni brings mystique and understatement and Jules Massenet is melancholic and heartfelt.
But this is more than a recital of romantic classical music, though the playing is skilful and gorgeous enough to be that too. Seven Prayers is about the counter-point between word and sound to create a serene and scintillating sonic cocoon, one that keeps the world at bay for a while so that you can listen to your own thoughts, understand your own heart and converse with your very soul.
And this is something that it does brilliantly. Despite the words being so well crafted and poignant, the overall effect is that you cease to concentrate on them as you would normal conversation, even as I write this, I feel myself drifting off into a sort of happy reverie just as I did when I first played it alone in an empty room.
And that is the album’s power, although power seems an inappropriate word for such an understated sound. All music takes you somewhere. To a happier place, to times past, reminds you of people or relationships, makes you sad or optimistic or angry. Seven Prayers of Love takes you to the heart of your very being. It is a way of tapping into your own consciousness, not the logical everyday side of the brain which usually runs the show but a more primal, more emotive, more intuitive side of yourself that rarely comes to the surface. And encountering that side of yourself, remembering who we really are deep down is an important thing to do from time to time. And this album is the perfect way to unlock that aspect of yourself.