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Two unusual collaborations from Rhiannon Giddens, Marissa Nadler 

click to enlarge Rhiannon Giddens, there is no Other
  • Rhiannon Giddens, there is no Other

Both Rhiannon Giddens and Marissa Nadler have expanded folk and traditionalist genres to include unexpected elements. Yet both have debuted new albums in collaboration with others that take their innovation even farther afield. Giddens has been busy in a women of color banjo collective, Our Native Daughters. Elements of Giddens’ new album there is no Other (Nonesuch) hint of that band, as well as her earlier work with Carolina Chocolate Drops. Her alliance with Francesco Turrisi, a pianist and virtuoso on the frame drum, provide wild explorations that unite Giddens’ lyrical interest in personal freedom with Turrisi’s attempts to break down musical boundaries. In tracks like “Brown Baby,” specific North African or Southern Mediterranean influences can be identified, but Turrisi helps Giddens define a “world music” that unifies all cultures and times.

Marissa Nadler’s project with Stephen Brodsky, a metal guitarist known for his solo work as well as with Old Man Gloom, did not have a sweeping agenda. The title Droneflower (Sacred Bones) should not suggest an electronic drone album. The two experimented with a horror film soundtrack, but elected to craft a 10-track album of dreamscapes with vocals, including an ethereal cover of Guns N’ Roses’ “Estranged.” The result has the floating feeling of Nadler applying her voice to a noir series.

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