Laura Gibson, Ethan Rose, Bridge Carols
A collaboration that is both alluring and discomfiting — in the very best way
Collaboration usually involves creating a safe space for your collaborator, making them feel welcome and encouraged, letting them be them. On this strange, alluring record, electronic composer Ethan Rose and singer-songwriter Laura Gibson intentionally set out to make each other uncomfortable. The album was recorded in a basement as well as various outdoor venues (a forest, a field and, if the title is in any sense literal, on/under a bridge); Gibson improvised vocals to suit Rose's sound-paintings, Rose went home and shaped them into songs, neither knew exactly what the finished product would sound like.
The results: discomfiting! Gibson picks out tensile acoustic melodies and breathily mumbles things like "where have you gone my darkest star" over ambient orchestrations that roll by like cloud formations. "Sun" evokes shaky optimism to wind-chime accompaniment. On "Leaving, Believing" Gibson asks to "wear your shadow" over distant horns and oscillating burbles.
Gibson's vocals are spare and wraith-y, but a jazz inflection in her voice adds warmth too. Some might compare Bridge Carols to Imogen Heap — which it resembles in the same way that curling resembles hockey; this is slow, mega-soft, grey-day stuff. But give it time and its slow-build beauty will massage your knottier places.