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Album Premiere: "Fertile Ashes" by Twin Bridges

25 October 2023

Photo Credit: Pastel Creative Studio

Twin BridgesZach Gerzon found solace in writing songs on a cello after experiencing the sudden passing of a parent and enduring romantic heartbreak. The tonalities of the instrument lent his darkly melodic indie-rock a beautifully haunting resonance that can be heard on his band’s emotive and cathartic debut, Fertile Ashes.

Twin Bridges’s melancholic aesthetic is the result of fusing classical and chamber music’s instrumentation and musicality with folk and indie-rock. The band’s music is sonically aligned with artists such as Andrew Bird, My Brightest Diamond, Takenobu, Kishi Bashi, and Arthur Russell. To date, Twin Bridges has issued the 2019 single “Clover & Honey,” and Fertile Ashes’ first single, “Come Out / On.” This single has been featured in blogs such as Hot Lunch Music, The Sounds Won’t Stop, No Transmission, Podcart (UK), and Last Day Deaf. “Come Out / On” has also earned widespread exposure through appearing on several Spotify playlists, and in French media outlets.

Zach is a self-taught cellist with a background as a multi-instrumentalist playing punk, country, and bluegrass on guitar, bass, and drums. At the age of 17, he became obsessed with the cello after hearing songs by Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s. He eventually purchased a student model cello, and learned to play through watching YouTube tutorials, and teaching himself how to read bass clef. Along the way, Zach developed a personal approach to the instrument which includes looping and effects pedals; playing the cello on its side and strumming it like a guitar; and utilizing traditional techniques such as pizzicato and bowing.

Twin Bridges started as a solo project, but it has evolved into more of a band setting with Zach’s gifted circle of musician friends contributing to live shows and recordings. The cast for Fertile Ashes includes Zach on cello, lead vocals, and engineering; Kylie Mcdermot on trumpet; Julia Michel on clarinet and saxophone; Chris Lazerek on bass clarinet; Jeff Kuhns on bassoon; Margaret Wehr on violin; and additional vocalists Lindsay Clark, Erisy Watt, Jeremy Ferarra, and Chloe Serkissian.

Zach wrote the music for Fertile Ashes during a transient period in his life when he drifted around New Mexico and Colorado before settling in Oregon. The awe-inspiring nature of these states is reflected in his songs. The album’s intimate production aesthetic reflects its earthy creative journey. Songs were tracked in a bevy of vibey loft and barn settings with Zach engineering, producing, arranging, and writing parts on cello for many other instruments.

Fertile Ashes commences with the mournful but hopeful first single, ”Come Out \ On.” It’s a song built on a hypnotic cello riff, and the intermingling of melancholic clarinet with bowed cello. It metaphorically evokes the passage of winter to spring in seasons of a life—the letup of sad times. On the stately and sorrowful “Dream Of You,” one of the album’s most personal songs, Zach musically sketches a loving portrait of his mother who passed away years ago. “I hadn’t planned on sharing this song, but, as time went on, I realized that it could be healing to release songs that are this vulnerable,” Zach says. The album also includes evocative instrumentals, including “Willow Tree,” which features a lush commingling of drones, looped melodies, and beats.

The second half of the album introduces more woodwind and brass instrumentation. One of the heaviest topical songs on the album is on this side of the album, and it’s “Curt’s Song.” This track is a slinky and upbeat sounding song with stinging lyrics, including the passage: There was a time when we got along / Don’t give me all the credit / Yeah I’m the one who pushed you out of the tree / Not all lessons are free.

About the album, Zach tells The Big Takeover, “Fertile Ashes was a title that came to me after realizing the songs I’d chosen to be on the album represented different periods of my life in the last 7 or so years. There’s a common theme of learning how to unpack and overcome trauma, heartbreak and still finding hope in daily life. I found myself spending many evenings writing on the cello and unpacking the grief of the last several years. These times of writing came in waves and happened sporadically from 2013 to 2020 between New Mexico, Colorado & my new home in Oregon. I had felt most of the content that came out of that time was a little too personal to release into the wild. Being vulnerable via your art is a difficult thing to do publicly and feels very exposed. But in the end I think if art people can resonate with someone, it does more good being out in the world rather than sitting in a hard drive. Thanks for listening.”