Aside from their circular bodies, the banjo and the frame drum don’t look much alike. But listen to the two together, and you’ll find they’re related—and not all that distantly.
You’ll hear both throughout there is no Other, the excellent collaborative album by banjo ace Rhiannon Giddens (of Carolina Chocolate Drops fame) and Francesco Turrisi, an Italian multi-instrumentalist, released last May. We named it the best folk album of the year.
“We realized that this banjo and that frame drum were so connected together when we started playing them,” Giddens said while prefacing a Paste Studio performance of there is no Other’s instrumental title track, which marries the two instruments in a ceremony of vivacious plucking and steady thumping. “This tune came out of us playing together. It’s inextricable, the two sounds.”
“There is no Other” is one of three songs the pair played during their Paste Studio session on April 30, 2019, sandwiched by “Wayfaring Stranger” and “Little Margaret.” Throughout the album Giddens examines—and condemns— “othering,” while also working with Turrisi to break down sonic barriers between different musical influences from all over the world. The album is a striking campaign for connection that exquisitely blends European, Arabic, African American and Mediterrean sounds.
Watch Giddens and Turrisi perform in the Paste Studio below. Read our 2019 interview with Giddens right here.