Julianna Barwick – 'Nepenthe' album review

Rich vocal loops and piano melodies make this a record to lose yourself in

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

Brooklyn-based experimental musician Julianna Barwick works primarily with layers of her own voice, which are looped and processed into rich soundscapes. 2011's debut album, 'The Magic Place', hinted at the kind of beautiful emptiness you might find traversing across middle America (Barwick was raised in Missouri), but 'Nepenthe' latches onto the same sense of drowned urbanity that William Basinski explored in his 'Disintegration Loops'.

The tone here, is far more celebratory – nepenthe is a kind of anti-depressant of Greek mythology after all, and there's a definite sense of woozily oblivious happiness underpinning the album. Barwick adds more straightforward piano melodies, and even discernible lyrics into the mix, tying her more closely to other Brooklyn scene bands like Gang Gang Dance and Telepathe, though preserving that unconventional edge that also keeps her in with the post-classical crowd.

Overall, this is a great album for celebrating any city, not just New York, at the dawn of first light. It's a sleepy evocation of the pleasant feeling of being subsumed something far greater than oneself, and a record to lose yourself in over and over again.

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Watch Julianna Barwick's 'One Half' video

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