A festival like TBA seems the ideal opportunity for artists to work together, but as every performer knows, busy schedules often preclude any kind of collaboration. In fact, it sometimes seems the only way to get artists to work together is to seal them off in a room.
Which is exactly what's happening with Younger, an unlikely and unique collaboration between musicians Laura Gibson and Ethan Rose, and filmmaker Ryan Jeffrey. The three will be contained in the glass fishbowl of the PDX Contemporary Art gallery, and audiences will be able to observe the work from outside the building, and come and go over the duration of the performance.
Gibson and Rose have been working together on an album over the past year—for Younger, they will be recreating the music in part, but more importantly, recreating their collaborative process in conjunction with Jeffery's film projections. Gibson describes it as a "feedback loop," in which she will be making sounds, Rose will be mixing and manipulating the music live, and Jeffery's images will be created in response to the sound, and those images in turn influence the music Gibson and Rose create.
If the pairing of Gibson's plainspoken, sober folk with Rose's ethereal, ambient sonic experiments seems unconventional, the partnership has been remarkably fruitful. "It began as a conversation, and a mutual appreciation and curiosity for each other's processes," says Gibson, whose own recent Beasts of Seasons album cut a wide-ranging stylistic swath. "I'm able to be more expressive with my voice, and use it in ways that I haven't in my solo work. Much of the lyrics came from improvisations, actually singing strings of words, and scattered phrases off the top of my head for long stretches. Ethan took those improvisations, and cut and arranged them together into song poems. We were amazed at how well this worked, as new meanings seemed to emerge."
The collaborative album is due out early next year, although a Japanese release and a tour are scheduled for this fall.
Of Younger, Gibson says, "It will be an experiment, and a practice in being present."