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Electronic - Released July 10, 2020 | Ninja Tune

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
You only need to listen to a few seconds of Healing Is A Miracle to understand that Julianna Barwick’s albums contain the same amount of thoughtfulness that you’d find in a monastery. This American from Louisiana, who’s now based in Los Angeles after a long stint in Brooklyn, lets this dreamlike atmosphere seep into everything she composes. Wide soundscapes, infinite layers, loops and repetitive patterns immersed in halos of echo and reverb swirl around her fascinating voice which possesses a similar grace to Liz Fraser’s from the Cocteau Twins, despite hardly resembling it. The album is like an ethereal, hypnotic, suspended music session. It’s hardly surprising that Barwick has worked with Sigur Rós, among others… Jónsi from the Icelandic band features on In Light. The Californian electronic musician Nosaj Thing (on Nod) and the harpist Mary Lattimore (on Oh, Memory) are the two other guests on this fourth album, which, like previous records, is soaked in a half-New Age, half-ambient feel. Time is suspended. And so are we. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz

Alternative & Indie - Released August 20, 2013 | Dead Oceans

Booklet Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Over the course of her recordings leading up to third album Nepenthe, Brooklyn-based solo musician Julianna Barwick's vaporous compositions were largely the product of infinite layers of her own voice, looped and processed into misty, near-cosmic realms. Spreading out across a wide range of octaves, her mostly wordless vocalizations found a specific state of emotional transparency that could instinctively communicate by turns feelings of harrowing darkness, contemplation, fear, and confusion -- or even an understated humor. No small feat, being able to say so much without any conventional language, and Barwick pushed her atmospheric songs to new places, adding subtle layers of guitar and piano to her walls of voices on 2011's The Magic Place. With Nepenthe, the depth of her sound expands even further, including more collaboration and experimentation than ever before, without ever losing the direct approach that guided her earlier work. The album was recorded in Iceland with longtime Sigur Rós producer/collaborator Alex Somers, and the same dreamlike shards of glacial production that have enhanced Sigur Rós' best efforts come through here as well. With most of her other albums being recorded in practice spaces or bedrooms, Barwick has never been afforded the spaciousness her billowing vocal loops suggested and at times artificially replicated. Here, with the benefit of cavernous room sounds and natural reverb and delay, each vocal track gets a little more character of its own, dialing the layers back somewhat since each offers more by itself. Tracks like "The Harbinger" and "Labyrinthine" replace what once would have been more of the same voice with both haunting piano lines and the incredibly placed addition of an Icelandic girl's choir. "One Half" sounds almost pop compared to Barwick's previous work, including the closest thing to a discernible English lyric, repeating over cinematic drums and brittle strings. While the heightened production brings a vividness and depth to the album, the advances in songwriting and arrangement are what's truly striking on Nepenthe. While still coming from a deeply insular place, the expanded instrumentation and collaborative element put Barwick in the role of conductor, opening up her very personal song worlds to a supporting cast. While comparisons to the icy beauty of Sigur Rós, the ethereal curiosity of Cocteau Twins, and any number of new age reference points are inevitable and warranted, Nepenthe shows a much deeper side to Barwick's art. In the same way Eno's ambient work was as detailed as it was static, Barwick directs Nepenthe like a slowly unfolding film, burying an arc of storytelling and exploration inside what could just as easily pass by unnoticed. It's not only her biggest and most ambitious production to date, but also the album that best showcases her gift for communicating complex emotional entanglements so simply and clearly they become almost weightless. © Fred Thomas /TiVo

Ambient - Released December 20, 2019 | Commend There


Electronic - Released February 11, 2011 | Florid Recordings


Alternative & Indie - Released May 6, 2016 | Dead Oceans


Alternative & Indie - Released January 30, 2007 | Florid Recordings

Originally released by the artist herself in 2006, Sanguine is Brooklyn-based experimental vocalist/composer Julianna Barwick's first collection of studio recordings, made primarily with loops of her own vocalizations. These dream-like compositions are presented here in snippet form, giving the listener the impression that they've been building up for a long time before the moments we're listening in on. Barwick's later albums were characterized by dense, ethereal layers of mostly wordless singing, but the short (mostly untitled) pieces here get into more playful vocal sounds and devices. Strange lispy pops, beat-box-like rhythmic techniques, and a grating screech on the appropriately titled "Scary Cat" all point to an artist figuring out her sound and having fun trying different approaches. © Fred Thomas /TiVo

Alternative & Indie - Released June 30, 2009 | Florid Recordings

It's not every day someone comes up with a truly new, undeniably distinctive sound. Certainly not after several decades' worth of restlessly inventive, electronically aided aural explorers have canvassed seemingly every imaginable sonic and textural frontier in the broadly defined realms of ambient, experimental, and electro-acoustic art music. But that's exactly what Julianna Barwick has achieved; first with her 2006 album Sanguine, and even more boldly and assuredly on this release, which is billed as an EP even though its predecessor was equally concise. Barwick's arrival at such a refreshingly original sonic approach is in itself a remarkable feat; that the sound she's developed also happens to be instantly arresting and utterly beautiful is truly a cause for wonder. The sound in question, essentially the only thing we hear on the whole of Florine (with a few small exceptions), consists of a densely layered array of Barwick's own vocals -- murmuring alto hums; full-throated high-register vocalizing (usually wordless), and an even higher, unearthly siren's peals -- always heavily reverbed, and massaged to erase almost any trace of attack and to produce a long, lingering decay. The effect is a blurry, impossibly ephemeral build-up of sound that, despite its palpably human point of origin, feels neither natural nor artificial, but rather more elusive: supernatural, otherworldly, divine; strange and unfamiliar, and yet comforting and reassuring. Even without the apt, unmistakable imagery conjured by Florine's song titles -- "Sunlight, Heaven," "Cloudbank," "The Highest," "Anjos" ("Angels" in Portuguese) -- it would be hard to miss the fundamentally airy, celestial nature of this music, which has the billowing, pillowy softness of a cloud and a haunting, eerie beauty evocative of an angelic choir -- keeping in mind that angels are something decidedly other than human. There's a corresponding (if equally abstracted) spiritual quality to the loop-based, loosely structured compositions themselves: solemn and stately, at least at first, with simple (mantra- or hymn-like, perhaps) elusive melodic fragments repeated cyclically, gradually accreting density and sometimes near-rapturous volume, and then lapsing again into silence. Save for the interlude "Anjos," which swaps the typical all-but-a cappella model for a prominent instrumental undercarriage of glassine piano rills, these six tracks all take a largely similar form, but they create a considerable range of moods and effects via small variations in texture, harmony, and pacing. Florine may be brief, but it is in no way fragmentary or incomplete: this is a thorough, thoughtful, and mesmerizing fleshing-out of a potent and fascinating musical idea. © K. Ross Hoffman /TiVo

Ambient - Released May 20, 2020 | Ninja Tune


Ambient - Released June 18, 2020 | Ninja Tune


Electronic - Released March 5, 2013 | Florid Recordings


Alternative & Indie - Released April 7, 2016 | Dead Oceans


Alternative & Indie - Released June 3, 2014 | Dead Oceans


Electronic - Released September 22, 2020 | Ninja Tune


Alternative & Indie - Released March 9, 2016 | Dead Oceans