5.0 out of 5 stars "All for the love of you..."
This is my favorite Loreena Mckennitt album. Although, if pressed, I'm not sure I can provide a convincing explanation of my reasons. Possibly it is because the singer, who already had a loyal and following as a singer in the British folk traditions, shows a surprising flair for experiencing other musical styles and deftly making them her own. Spanish, North African,...
Published on Sept. 9 2003 by Marc Ruby™
3.0 out of 5 stars A bust by anyone else, it's a McKennitt minor triumph.
Like another of Loreena's offerings, "The Book of Secrets", "The Mask and the Mirror" has too many tracks that, to my untrained ears, are not Celtic in flavor (which is supposedly this artist's forte). Neither, in my opinion, is equal to her best CD, "The Visit".
A couple of the selections on "Mask" are just plain monotonous. However, there are three others, sung...
Published on June 14 2000 by Joseph Haschka
Most Helpful First | Newest First
4.0 out of 5 stars "All for the love of you . . .",
Indeed. Or rather, quite. Or shall I say... well you get it. The point is that this is Loreena McKennitt at her most -- how shall we say this? -- mystical? Eerie doesn't quite work... Dream-like perhaps? Well suffice it to say that Elemental was thoroughly folk, The Book of Secrets was a neutral new age work of art, and this, this is in a realm all its own.
One can see this easily when one hears the chanting that opens "The Mystic's Dream." Loreena McKennitt in my opinion is better than Enya, and this because there are more layers to her music. Enya has a lovely voice and makes lovely music, mind you, but Loreena McKennitt captures the feel and essence of her subject whether this be a mystic or a lover, Prospero or what have you.
If I didn't know better I might venture to say that "The Mask and Mirror" is slightly darker than McKennitt's other work. Why do I say this? I haven't the foggiest. Perhaps because the elements presented are more or less beneath the surface. This is difficult to explain right here on an Amazon review but I would strongly suggest that you purchase this CD and just see for yourself what I mean.
All things said and done. Buy it. Enjoy it. Thank yourself profusely.
5.0 out of 5 stars "All for the love of you...",
This is my favorite Loreena Mckennitt album. Although, if pressed, I'm not sure I can provide a convincing explanation of my reasons. Possibly it is because the singer, who already had a loyal and following as a singer in the British folk traditions, shows a surprising flair for experiencing other musical styles and deftly making them her own. Spanish, North African, Islamic, and Judaic come to her and are transformed into even larger concepts and then made into intimate friends.
Another factor may be the great intelligence of her choices. McKennitt's own lyrics on this album demonstrate a more than passing familiarity with the Gnostic and mystical and a very clear vision of how to express these ideas in melodic terms. She also is noted for adapting lyrics from various poetic sources, drawing from a delightful spectrum of Writers. In this case, St. John of the Cross, Yeats, and Shakespeare. Each time, she captures something in the doing that most of us might miss in the reading.
Finally, of course, there is the musicality of her work. Whether they be rhythmic, pensive, or tender, the melodies and settings distinguish Mckennitt from the crowd. Her work is never simple or gimmicky. This, and a compelling, beautiful voice make The Mask and the Mirror a treat for these tired ears. Whether the album becomes your favorite as well is moot. No one would argue that it is one of her best.
5.0 out of 5 stars Loreena--One in a Million.,
The Mask and Mirror is my favorite album of Loreeena's and I'll be listening with wonder throughout my lifetime. Profoundly stirring to the blood, her Music penetrates straight to the core of this soaring heart. Loreena has the voice of a Goddess and is my favorite singer forever. The Mask and Mirror bestows a posh feast for my starving ears and a pure fountain for my thirsty soul. Loreena and her exquisite music are a part of me forever. I have many fond memories of this cd and will make more I'm sure. I can't recommend The Mask and Mirror more highly. It is for all of us.
Loreena, I believe I speak for many when I confess I miss you terribly and wish you'd come back to us; however, I am truly grateful for your lavish gift of sharing your tender heart, brilliant mind and dazzling soul expressed inside to overflowing through your Mesmerizing Music (your Music is the Definition of mesmerizing.) I will eternally respect you and your reasons for retiring. I am so sorry for your loss. Thanks and Godspeed to you and everyone who is moved by your Music, which I believe, is all who've heard. You're truly one in a million and will never be forgotten. As you ask in "Full Circle," may we all in our hearts and souls find peace.
5.0 out of 5 stars LM's Best Work,
The Visit, the album that proceeded this one, gave us a small glimpse of where Loreena McKennitt was about to take her music, and on The Mask and Mirror, those glimpses blossom into a fully realized collection of tunes that can truly be called 'world music'.
LM had begun to experiment with elements of dark and light within the musical canvases she had created on The Visit, but those experiments are more potent here, as are her combinations of various styles and cultures. Tunes such as The Mystic's Dream and Marrakesh Night Market effectively create a Middle Eastern/Meditteranean atmosphere with a slightly more haunting approach. The musical backing is stronger here than on previous albums as well, giving the album an even wider lens through which to view LM's visions of vocal and lyrical sojourneying.
Her ballads are as always, sweet and tender, rich and compelling, such as on Ce He Mise Le Ulaingt?/The Two Trees (which opens with her trademark Celtic influences well displayed by the pipes), or on the album closer, Prospero's Speech, where LM once again takes a traditional writing (this time from Shakespeare) and sets it to music.
As with her harp and keyboard work, LM's voice stands out as one of the best around in any genre. Her phrasing is meticulous, her tone clear and emotive. And her songwriting is informed with a sense of melody that proves easily digestable to Western ears.
On a sidenote, some may find her diary-esque liner notes somewhat pretentious, but it is still a nice read. However, its the music that we all want and love, and here LM gives us the best she has to offer. A must have.
5.0 out of 5 stars The search continues...,
McKennitt's search continues through the major religions of the world: Judaism, Islam and Christianity, drawing on their distinct and surprisingly similar views of the soul. In ~The Mask and Mirror~ she begins her journey of discovery through the window of 15th century Spain, and immediately, listening to the first song, 'The Mystics Dream', we are transported to the world and holy sounds of Christian monks, chanting their eerie notes of prayer - what came to mind on the first listen through, was the notion of Infinty and the utter vastness of the soul...similar to most of the artist's several recordings, the music is a kind of medium of transport, a nebulous conduit, giving us the opportunity to see and feel these other worlds.
In her diary entry of March 23, 1982, the time of Ramadan, she writes, "...hear men chanting in the mosque, one of the most moving and primitive sounds I have ever heard. They are calling their God. I think, when have I heard this before?" McKennitt asks us to join her on her search, describing the exotic places she has visited and the music that was inspired as a result. This artist pays close attention to the outer world, seeking-out their mysteries, reflects on these sights to then translate the images and feelings into the sounds of poetry and music. And the final product of these particular journeys and reflections is ~The Mask and Mirror~.
McKennitt's entire body of work is a reflection through her music of her search for the Divine. Her music is incredibly moving...all her music to my mind is special, but this CD stands out as one of the best.
5.0 out of 5 stars Tremendous! Compelling and original!,
Loreena McKennitt sings her captivating, poetic lyrics with multilayered accompaniments of acoustic strings and winds, synthesizers and exotic percussion. As composer and arranger, she is ever pushing her boundaries, looking for inspiration from the far corners of the world and blending it into her developing style. And best of all, she doesn't just craft a simple theme and repeat it over and over. Her music travels, evolves and has wonderful structure, offering just enough of one interesting sound before moving on to embellish on it or contrast it with something else. It was in overhearing this CD in a music store that I first comprehended what "world music" or "fusion music" was, and more importantly, what it could be. From that moment on, I was hooked, both on McKennitt's work, and on the concept of artful combinations of the acoustic with the electronic, and of east with west. If you like this music, other great sources are "Star of the Sea" by Stellamara, "The Isle of Dreaming" by Kate Price, and the recent work of Angels of Venice, in their self-titled Narada debut as well as "Awake Inside a Dream".
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderous Work!,
No one else can quite match the cool and ethereal vocal work that Loreena McKennitt manages to pour out of her long tawny frame. This Canadian iconoclast is hard to classify, and any fan of her corpus of albums can testify that she has many different sounds and a haunting kind of appeal that is very difficult to put one's finger on. Yet this particular album, which I happen to think is among her best, offers a showcase of her talents. From the opening number, "The Mystic's Dream", she delights and surprises. The number runs as an absorbing "new age" instrumental for well over two minutes before her tantalizing vocal kicks in, leaving us breathless and stunned by its end some five minutes later.
And this is just the beginning of her ostentatious offerings here. Each of the numbers, from "The Bonny Swans" to "The Dark Night of the Soul" to the final piece, "Prospero's Speech", breeze by the listener as exotic candy for a sophisticated pallet, an exciting excursion into the fantastic dream world she inhabits, where highwaymen still roam and the romance and mystery of Marco Polo still rule the planet. If you have never heard Miss McKennitt before, then this album is the single best introduction I can imagine. If you have, then I am sure you will love all of the cuts included here. Sit back, sip some wine, and listen! Loreena is edging up to the microphone........ Enjoy
5.0 out of 5 stars McKennitt's Finest,
While her other recordings are fine pieces of work, I consider The Mask and Mirror Loreena McKennitt's best. The music entrances you whether enjoying it during mealtime, reading, or just relaxing in front of a fire sipping a glass of wine. I first heard this in a book store on a rainy afternoon while browsing and left that day with the first of many of her CDs that I would eventually own. The Mask and Mirror is "chocolate" for your ears and senses. Don't look to this CD for simply Celitc tunes. This is so very much more. It is a journey of sometimes haunting and moving melodies with chanting and rhythms (close your eyes and picture the nighttime lights of Marrakesh), and deeply moving love ballads perfect for a romantic dance embrance, or as I did for the first dance with my husband at our wedding a few years ago.
You will hear influences of Spain, Morocco and Ireland to name a few. These songs are beautifully blended and mixed as to appear seamless as one transitions into the next. A perfect example of this is Full Circle (#5) with its slow and flowing soulful harmony and next into Santiago (#6) with a distinct Spanish beat as it picks up the pace. Then again into Ce He Mise Le Ulaingt? and The Two Trees (#7) with a regal Celtic intro and then unfolding into sweet cello and stings and the increible voice of Loreena McKennitt singing lyrics taken from writings by poet William Butler Yeats.
This is one my all time top 5 CDs. I recommend it highly.
5.0 out of 5 stars Loreena McKennitt�s Definitive Work,
Many people were first knowingly exposed to Loreena McKennitt through the commercial success of The Book of Secrets. While The Book of Secrets is a great recording, it pales in comparison to McKennitt's earlier work: The Mask and Mirror.
The Mask and Mirror contains many of the hallmarks that make up the McKennitt "sound." The most important of these hallmarks is the superb musicianship of the accompanying band. Their efforts flesh out and provide a depth to the songs. Just try to imagine "The Dark Night of the Soul" without Brian Hughes' delicate electric sitar theme weaving its way through the song, or "Santiago" without Rick Lazar's powerful percussion. It is impossible to do.
Yet, these musicians do not overpower the songs with their efforts. The fact that they don't is a testament to another McKennitt trademark: solid production. The production choices on every track are perfect. Each choice not only enhances the sound, but also conveys to the listener the song's power. It is the recording's last track that best exemplifies this outstanding production. "Prospero's Speech" gives the listener an image of solitude and isolation, because it is simply McKinnett on vocals with a light synthesizer accompaniment. This image is perfectly in step with the lyrics, which are taken from the Tempest's end when the actor playing Prospero stands alone on the stage and delivers those lines to the audience. This same kind of sensitive, sophisticated production is evident in all the recording's tracks.
The last characteristic that The Mask and Mirror shares with other McKinnett recordings is Loreena's songwriting and vocals. Yet, it is in this area that this recording breaks from all her earlier works. McKennitt more fully utilizes a "Middle Eastern" sound (with which she had dabbled previously) to her compositions. The result of this addition is an energy that wasn't always present in the earlier recordings. This energy seems to infect McKennitt in other ways as well. Her vocals, always beautiful to hear, seem more energetic and alive on this recording. Also, the lyrics on her original songs are enhanced by the energy provided through this new wrinkle in her sound. The result is a recording that is seamless from a songwriting point of view.
It is rare to find a recording which represents such a dramatic, yet natural, evolution in an artist's body of work. Such is the case with The Mask and Mirror. There are echoes of McKennitt's past work in this recording. Yet, the growth in her songwriting, the strong production, and the solid musicianship make this album a quantum leap over her previous efforts, and superior to anything she has recorded since. People who have only heard The Book of Secrets are doing themselves a disservice by not buying The Mask and Mirror. Not only are they missing out on a great recording, they are also missing out on the defining work in a talented artist's career.
4.0 out of 5 stars Yet another good Loreena album,
Loreena McKennitt experiments with a variety of styles here, and the result is always beautiful.
The strongest tracks, IMHO, are the first three. "The Mystic's Dream" and "Dark Night of the Soul" are two absolutely soaring love songs, both of which could be either about earthly romance or about religion, or maybe both. Sandwiched between them is "The Bonny Swans", a lilting rendition of the traditional ballad "The Twa Sisters" or "The Cruel Sister". I wouldn't have thought it possible, but somehow McKennitt takes this very dark tale and creates a song that feels uplifting. And somehow it works. (I also recommend Ceoltoiri, who perform a darker, more haunting version of "The Cruel Sister" on their album "Women of Ireland". Same ballad, two very different adaptations.)
Then comes "Marrakesh Night Market", which richly evokes a Middle eastern bazaar, and has a hypnotic rhythm. It does feel a little repetitive after a few minutes, though, at least to me. How I could find "Marrakesh" repetitive, and yet wish "The Bonny Swans" had a dozen more verses, is beyond me. It's just my opinion, though. Take it with a whole shaker of salt.
After "Marrakesh", the album begins to drift into background music. Even as McKennitt quotes Yeats and Shakespeare, the classic words dissolve into the sweet and ambient melodies. The voice acts more as another instrument than it does as a carrier of lyrics.
My advice: Listen raptly to the first three songs. Dance to "Marrakesh". Meditate to the rest.
Most Helpful First | Newest First