For much of his time in Chicago, guitarist Nathaniel Braddock immersed himself so thoroughly in African music—leading the Occidental Brothers Dance Band International and Trio Mokili as well as teaching various African guitar styles at the Old Town School—that it was easy to forget that he'd also led the indie-rock band Ancient Greeks, played in the experimental guitar combo Butchershop Quartet, and curated an exhibition devoted to the graphic scores that John Cage collected in the book Notations. In fall 2014 Braddock moved to Australia with his wife, Julie Shapiro, and unsurprisingly his Chicag0-area performances largely dried up. His family eventually returned to the U.S., and though they relocated to Boston, his presence here has definitely seen an uptick.
On Friday, Braddock releases a new solo album of original compositions called Quadrille & Collapse (Invertebrata), which reflects his commitment to African music while reminding listeners of his earlier interests. It also stakes out new turf—or at least turf he hasn't explored on an album before. The nine-song collection is an exquisite display of fingerstyle playing that connects what John Fahey called American Primitive guitar with the traditional palm-wine style of Sierra Leone, with many detours in between. The thickets of abstraction in "Doesn't Remember" echo Braddock's knotty playing in Butchershop Quartet, which notoriously transcribed Stravinsky's Rite of Spring for four guitars, while the formal rhythmic rigor of "Silvering Ghosts" recalls the mechanistic minimalism of Steve Reich. Below you can check out today's 12 O'Clock Track, the gently rolling, rustically melodic "Quadrille & Collapse."
Braddock will play music from the album on Saturday at Constellation, opening for the wonderful acoustic guitarist Sarah Louise.
Marek Poliks, Hull Treader (Another Timbre)
Various artists, North India: Mithila, Love Songs of Vidyapati (Ocora)
Harris Eisenstadt, Golden State (Songlines)
Erik Griswold, Ecstatic Descent (Code Blue)
Rob Mazurek & Jeff Parker, Some Jellyfish Live Forever (Rogue Art)