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Nepenthe

by Julianna Barwick

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about

Julianna Barwick's art is equal parts force and beauty. Her music finds its motor in significant events in her own life, but they are abstracted into a sense of sonic wonderment, a radiance that you could say is her signature sound. That radiance has been taken to new zeniths with 'Nepenthe', her third full-length album, which was recorded in Reykjavík, Iceland, in the dark cold days of February.

"Everything I was making was visceral – the record represents some serious emotional stuff," she confirms, while at the same time she raves with enormous positivity about the unique recording environment. Alex Somers (musician/producer of Sigur Rós, Jónsi, Jónsi & Alex) invited her to Iceland in the first place. For Julianna, who was blown away at a Sigur Rós show in 2002, it was a dream come true. "That was the fastest email I ever wrote: “Yes!” Who would say no to that?" Somers produced and engineered the record and brought in local Icelandic musicians who turned out to make crucial contributions: string ensemble Amiina, guitarist Róbert Sturla Reynisson from Múm, and a choir of teenage girls.

Perhaps as a result, 'Nepenthe' is intimate without being introspective. Instead it’s a radiant array of light-dappled choral works, drawing a powerful sense of hope from the depths of despair. The extra musicians have rounded out her sound, emphasizing the yearning mood, the reaching towards the light. Check the teenage choir's ecstatic crooning on "Forever," or Amiina’s shimmering sound clouds on the glorious second track, "The Harbinger." "Offing" and "One Half" are the perfect showcase for her seamlessly layered vocals, which circulate and settle upon one another like sheets of gauze on the breeze.

Far from the secondhand emotions and digital dabblings of so many other artists, Julianna Barwick's music is the real deal: a life-affirming work of importance, interest… and sheer beauty.

credits

released June 20, 2013

Julianna Barwick - voice, programming, keys

Other Featured Artists:

Alex Somers - electronics
Hildur Ársælsdóttir - violin
Edda Rún Ólafsdóttir - viola
Maria Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir - violin
Sólrún Sumarliðadóttir - cello
Róbert Sturla Reynisson - guitar
Rún Ólafsdóttir - viola
Salka Þorra Svanhvítardóttir - choir
Hólmfríður Benediktsdóttir - choir
Sólveig María Gunnarsdóttir - choir
Hildur Franziska Hávarðardóttir - choir

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about

Julianna Barwick Brooklyn, New York

Julianna Barwick's music has been reviewed in Time Out New York, Time Out Lisbon, The New York Times, and The Village Voice, among other publications. Her music has also been featured as "Best New Music" on Pitchfork, which also gave her latest release, 2009's "Florine" EP an honorable mention for an album of the year. ... more

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