The Soothing Uncompromising Experience

There's an excellent chance, given her singular approach, that singer/songwriter Laura Gibson will be tagged as part of the American neo-folk subgenre known variously as New Weird America, freak-folk, or free-folk. Gibson's songs are tantalizingly spare to an almost psychedelic degree, recalling mind-warped six-string bards Syd Barrett and Jandek. Like the later works of U.S. mod-classical composer Morton Feldman, it's as if the listener is hearing a snowflake’s formation or a flower opening (not unlike what you would see in a nature documentary) — as Gibson reveals on "Nightwatch": "My words ker-plop around the page." Her tender, deliberate vocals seem as if she's singing them to you from across a room, a bit above a murmur. The stark yet hopeful longing of a hymn possesses her songs' arrangements — with trumpet, viola, and musical saw, you could imagine "Broken Bottle" being played by a Salvation Army band at the turn of the century (the 20th century, that is). Unlike some of her more avant-garde peers, Gibson doesn't forget to feature engaging melodies, hushed and measured though they may be. Though it lacks heavy-duty dissonance and clangor, her debut disc, If You Come to Greet Me, is an intensely challenging experience — unlike some intensely challenging experiences, though, there are tiny, glistening rewards to be treasured by the intrepid.

Musee Mecanique (former members of Tristeza) and Snowblink also perform.
Wed., Oct. 24, 8 p.m., 2007

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