Bridge Carols, the new project from Portland, OR friends Laura Gibson and Ethan Rose, began as a conversation of mutual appreciation and curiosity – a shared desire to challenge old ways of working. Ethan had mostly distanced his music from words, while Laura had often felt bound by them.
Steeped in the fingerpick-guitar rudiments of folk music, inspired by the expressionism of classic jazz vocalists, and finding common ground in the minimalism and ear-taunting of the avant garde, Laura Gibson alights on a branch of the music tree that no one else has found (NPR called her last release Beasts of Seasons “a quiet masterpiece.”) Sound artist and composer Ethan Rose has released recordings, scored films, and created sound installations (upcoming exhibitions include a collaborative installation with glass artist Andy Paiko at the Museum of Contemporary Craft.)
They began work on Bridge Carols by experimenting with different methods of collaboration. Inspired by Laura’s voice, Ethan began building soundscapes, while Laura looked through piles of notebooks, coming across old phrases that never found home in verses or rhymes. They began recording Laura singing these unused writings.
As the project developed, Laura began improvising lyrics and wordless vocalizations, stream of consciousness singing that tumbled out of her in long trailing waves. They recorded in the basement, the forest, and the field – each session having its own unique mood as Laura reflected from subject to subject.
Ethan then took the recorded words and vocalizations from these sessions – cutting them into bits and pieces – rearranging and juxtaposing them against each other to stretch them into new musical poems. These reconstructed lyrical fragments maintained the tone of Laura’s original improvisations while allowing new themes and meanings to emerge. With these vocal collages in place, Ethan would reshape tones and sounds around Laura’s words. The resulting pieces developed into songs. The songs developed into Bridge Carols, a record of deep atmosphere and an almost sublingual resonance.
Bridge Carols takes the listener to a place that exists between the notes and behind the words of modern music. This breaking down and rebuilding, cutting down to the core and polishing, results in something truer and more fundamental. It’s music that feels intimately familiar, timeless; at its heart, quite natural and human.