Marissa Nadler and Stephen Brodsky
Droneflower


2.5
average

Review

by botb USER (9 Reviews)
May 16th, 2019 | 15 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A deep longing for what could have been

On paper, the matchup between the talents of Stephen Brodsky and Marissa Nadler is intriguing to say the least. Brodsky, who has cut his teeth in both the realms of punishingly heavy and light and spacious, is more musically eclectic. Nadler, who has been quietly releasing her own brand of “dream folk” to critical acclaim for the past 15+ years, is much more specialized but no less impressive. Both are known for their penchant for creating gorgeous set pieces thick with atmosphere, and so the duo seems like a match made in heaven. However, the result of Droneflower to create something memorable is a bit more complicated than one would expect.

Droneflower sounds mostly like you’d surmise. Pretty piano and folky acoustic guitar accompany Nadler’s washed out, trancelike singing through most of the run time. The atmosphere both beautiful and somewhat eerie, mostly thanks to Nadler’s vocal contributions. The approach is extremely simplistic, generally being one or two instruments at a time with Nadler singing over the top of them. This is both a strength and a weakness. I found Droneflower at its most memorable when it was exploring slightly different territory such as the plodding and unnerving distorted guitar of “For the Sun”, and the welcome addition of a tambourine towards the end of “Estranged.” For better or for worse, those moments of differentiation are used sparingly. On the plus side, that makes the album’s spacey and minimalistic atmosphere seem very cohesive throughout, but it also potentially limits the amount of memorable high points that Droneflower could have employed.

Therein lies the problem- Droneflower fails to throw any major curveballs into the mix to make itself memorable. The vast majority of the album would find itself right at home on Marissa Nadler’s latest LP, only I would actually argue that that record is more varied in approach. A series of oversights truly limit the scape of what this album could have been.

The first oversight is the glaring lack of percussion. Aside from the aforementioned “Estranged” (which only utilizes tambourine in the final 2 minutes of its more than 7 minute runtime), Droneflower is completely devoid of any percussion. No shakers or handclaps. Nothing. The album is content to meander along at its own pace with no sense of urgency or rhythmic resolve. Another curious exemption is Brodsky’s voice. Brodsky is capable of providing a myriad of styles and influences, as is shown in his back catalogue of works, and yet he is entirely absent from the vocal aspect of the album. I would have loved to have heard Brodsky take the lead vocally for a song or two, backed with Nadler’s sweet croons, or even have contributed some backing singing while she maintained the spotlight, but Droneflower contains none of that. Nadler is more than capable of rising to this challenge, but it would have varied the delivery and sound of this record in such a positive way. I also would’ve loved to have heard more darker and heavier songs in the vein of “For the Sun”— nothing that would have been at home on the Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas collaborative effort or anything— just something different to break up the monotony of it all.

For better, Droneflower is a beautiful record rife with atmosphere that lulls its listener gently into a state of calm. For worse, it is an overly repetitious listen that never really strives for greater than or even equal to the sum of its parts. There is a lot to enjoy throughout its easily digestible half-hour-long foray, but there is also a lot to scratch your head about. Droneflower ultimately does not leave the listener with the lush, memorable soundscape that it craves to, instead replacing it with a deep longing for what could have been.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
botb
May 16th 2019


12911 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This record is enjoyable, just so disappointing. I struggled on whether to give it a 2.5 or a 3 because it’s somewhere right in the middle but just opted to go lower since the review focuses more on the shortcomings.

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
May 16th 2019


15798 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great write up dude. A 3 I think it's fair for this, I bumped it cause I love both artists but the points you bring up may make me take it down. Hard pos!

Digging: Full of Hell - Weeping Choir

budgie
May 16th 2019


9745 Comments


thanks botb, i will check

Digging: Antonio Vivaldi - Twelve Violin Sonatas, Op. 2

botb
May 16th 2019


12911 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks a lot Dew! Yeah this is...frustrating. The release of “For the Sun” as a promo single set my expectations high because that song is pretty unique but this never really gets anymore interesting than that. It’s all really pretty and pleasing to listen to, but very run of the mill.

budgie
May 16th 2019


9745 Comments


all of marissa nadler's material plays very run of the mill, really, took me a while to notice that though

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
May 16th 2019


15798 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah her style is really defined and personal but very limited. Brodsky should have known that and step forward with his vocals like botb pointed out snd some more instrumentation.

botb
May 16th 2019


12911 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I like what she does a lot, that kind of brooding dark folk with the very ethereal singing. But this doesn’t really differentiate itself from anything she’s ever done at all

WeepingBanana
May 16th 2019


10508 Comments


Still wanna check this out. Not a fan of any Stephen Brodsky bands but I'll always scope new Nadler shit

botb
May 16th 2019


12911 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It’s def worth a listen, especially if you enjoy nadler’s discography. This fits right in with it.

Hawks
May 16th 2019


70615 Comments


Just discovered Nadler last year. Her most recent album is damn good but nothing groundbreaking. Gonna check this but figuring it’s prob gonna be the same way.

Digging: Flamen - Furor Lunae

Relinquished
May 16th 2019


39853 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

idk I love it. I hear and appreciate Bread-sky's work on this, and I don't listen to Nadler enough to keep reminding me I love this gothic shit.

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
May 20th 2019


15469 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is so goddamn good y'all are crazy

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
May 20th 2019


15798 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

haha, I still think it's pretty enjoyable but it could have been smth waaaaay better considering the two people involved.

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
May 20th 2019


15469 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Idk anything about Brodsky and I've only heard Nadler's latest but I def think this is better than that

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
May 20th 2019


15469 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I am very glad this has a review though so thank you botb for taking that on (: Glad to see you've grown a little more positive!



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