Tonight: CocoRosie aims to define 'trance music' at Altar Bar


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The sister duo CocoRosie has a line in their song “Fairy Paradise” that sums up what they do fairly well.

“Trance music makes the fairies dance.”

But “trance music” isn’t a well-known genre. So reviewers have attached labels of pop, blues and electronica to them. Others have come up with “freak folk” and “hip-hopera.”

You can decide for yourself when Sierra and Bianca Casady bring their mesmerizing live show to Altar Bar in the Strip District tonight.

Their press material acknowledges the presence and influence of numerous forms of music in CocoRosie’s work. But the resulting sound is unique.

The women are the third and fourth daughters of Timothy Casady, a spiritualist, and Tina Hunter, an artist and teacher. Growing up, Sierra, who was born in Iowa, was nicknamed “Rosie.” Bianca, born in Hawaii, was called “Coco.”

Their parents split up when they were relatively young, exposing the girls to feelings of alienation. Bianca set out for San Francisco in her teens. Sierra, a refined soprano, traveled to Paris to pursue a position in the opera.

In 2003, after years without seeing each other, they reunited in Paris, starting a sisterly dialogue that soon was being expressed through music.

“Each sister has her own persona and vocal delivery,” according to their website. “Bianca delivers hard-hitting truths in a child-like voice, while Sierra responds in pure open tones, playing a range of instruments including the harp, flute, piano, and guitar.”

It isn’t unusual — or perhaps it is — to see Bianca employ various children’s toys, electronic and percussion instruments and exotic noisemakers as part of their sound. They’ve also brought in backing musicians, including a bassist, a keyboardist and a beatboxer.

They have produced five albums, including this year’s “Tales of a GrassWidow,” which has been reviewed in various publications as “operatic and beautiful” and “haunting.”

This isn’t just because of the sound, but of the lyrics as well. CocoRosie boldly breaks taboos with the aim of “honesty and spiritual freedom,” with lyrics that draw parallels between the destruction of the planet and the trauma of child abuse.

“The sisters often transform the most painful of experiences into memorable, evocative pop anthems,” according to their website.

The show at Altar Bar, 1620 Penn Ave., begins at 8 p.m. There is a $24 cover.

Dan Majors: dmajors@post-gazette.com

 


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