The dreamy and dark wild
The joint LP Droneflower by Marissa Nadler and Stephen Brodsky shows that there are really no boundaries in music collaboration. With Nadler’s folk singing voice, and Brodsky’s heftier guitar playing, this conceptual album differentiates itself from being placed under one class. Sorrowful metalcore meets enchanting folk and peacefully evolves for a truly organic and genre-bending listen.
Nonetheless, the first couple of songs in the project are a bit hard to follow initially. The first track, “Space Ghost 1,” opens with ominous, distant pianos and Nadler’s airy, reverbed vocals sing in haunting harmonies. The melodies are a bit hard to distinguish, and Brodsky’s fuzzy electric guitar seeps over into “For the Sun”.
Then we get to “Watch the Sun” where a noticeable shift occurs in the project. Perhaps more of a Nadler ballad, the song features softer acoustic guitar playing impressive and beautiful melodies. Her vocals are so gentle and angelic, and the key change played by Brodsky at 1:02 is absolutely breathtaking. You can hear them find musical harmony in this song, and it continues for the rest of the album.
We dip back into distant pianos in “Space Ghost II” yet now they are stained with a watery aftertaste and synthesizers building an emotional instrumental towards the end. “Dead West” follows playing like a western hum. Nadler’s voice is remarkable as she rides Brodsky’s melodies without overdoing it. A bit like an ethereal western track, the style between the two falls into unexpected unison and is truly impressive.
The stand out on the LP proves to be the artists’ cover of Guns n Roses’ “Estranged.” The cover is slowed down, a beautiful mourning as Nadler sings “I’m much too young to break my heart.” The whole track feels nostalgic, augmented by acoustic guitar and organ. Brodsky’s gritty guitar is a cool addition as he swiftly accompanies the soft percussion introduced, and Nadler’s Elizabeth Fraser-esque vocals add a shining uniqueness to it all. “Shades Apart” continues with melancholic acoustic guitar and similar singer-songwriter harmonies. A beautiful collaboration between the two, the track plays like an introspective night.
In “Buried in Love” a similar atmospheric opening reminds of a previous Stephen Brodsky song, “Night Winds.” Dreamy distant pianos play like a movie, and the track is cinematic and flowery. “Morbid Mist” keeps the dream-like feel with its reverb guitars. The melodies are slightly happier and stronger. The final song “In Spite of Me” finishes with guitar pickling and Nadler’s comforting folk voice singing “you did it all in spite of me.” Her lyrics are powerful and consistent throughout the record. Nostalgic, dreamy trumpets finish off the record.
Droneflower is a highly mature body of music where Brodsky and Nadler’s different styles connect and captivate.