Droneflower is in bloom. The new collaboration between Marissa Nadler and Stephen Brodsky (Cave In, Mutoid Man) is a sprawling and expansive exercise in contrasts. It is the sound of the war between the brutal and the ethereal, the dark and the light, the past and the present, and the real and imagined.
Brodsky met Nadler for the first time in 2014 at Brooklyn’s Saint Vitus Bar when he came to see her play on her July tour, and they quickly became friends. Both of them had been wanting to explore songwriting that didn’t fit into their existing projects, and they soon became energized by the prospect of working together. One of the first ideas they discussed was a horror movie soundtrack, and while Droneflower isn’t that, it is a richly cinematic album. It’s easy to imagine much of the record set to images, though it wasn’t composed that way.
Forêt Endormie is the genre-melding chamber ensemble led by guitarist and composer Jordan Guerette, known widely for his work with American black metal luminaries Falls of Rauros. Formed in 2016 in the “Forest City” of Portland, Maine, Forêt Endormie draws as much from the forms and fantasies of 20th century French composers Erik Satie and Olivier Messiaen, as they do the melancholic Neo-folk of Tenhi and Sol Invcitus and heavy minimalism of drone pioneers Earth.
Their debut record Étire dans le ciel vide (French for “stretch into the empty sky”) finds the band deep in a singular sonic world, both immersed in western classical tradition and entirely apart from it. The instrumental make-up of cello, violin, piano, vibraphone, electric guitar, and voices sets up infinite possibilities: delicate melodies, interwoven rhythms, and lush, ever-moving harmonies. This is music replete in unapologetic romanticism, but with complexity and intricacy that never protrudes through its melodicism. The pieces, while airy and full of light, move with mournful grace like the heavy-hearted doom and dark Americana found in Falls of Rauros’ sui generis black metal. Throughout the record’s eight tracks, there is a certain, inescapable weight– the pieces delve into the omnipresent anxiety and isolation of modern life, through the words of 19th century poet Paul Verlaine, as well as Guerette’s own– yet an inexorable beauty, purity, and sense of hope is always shining through.