Julianna Barwick's revelatory third full-length, Will, is a surprising left turn for the Brooklyn experimental artist. Conceived and self-produced over the past year in a variety of locations, the ominous, compelling Will is a departure from 2013's Alex Somers-produced Nepenthe. If that last record conjured images of gentle, thick fog rolling over desolate mountains, then the self-produced Will is a late afternoon thunderstorm, a cathartic collision of sharp and soft textures that sounds looming and restorative all at once.
Will comes off of Barwick's busiest period in her career to date following Nepenthe - a spate of activity that included playing piano for Yoko Ono, performing at the 25th annual Tibet House Benefit Concert alongside such kindred spirits as the Flaming Lips and Philip Glass, the Rosabi EP and an extensive touring schedule that included her first-ever shows in Japan.
Her life over the past several years has largely been lived in transit, and as such the genesis of Will was not beholden to location; Barwick reflects on this cycle of constant motion. "You're constantly adjusting, assimilating, and finding yourself in life-changing situations."
That sense of forward propulsion is largely owed to what Barwick describes as Will's "synthy flava," an ingredient she was inspired to add to her vocal loop-heavy formula after demoing equipment for synth maker Moog. Another new wrinkle Will introduces in Barwick's sound: Mas Ysa's Thomas Arsenault, who lends his richly complex vocals to "Same" and "Someway." The beguiling, beautifully complicated Will is the latest proof yet of Barwick's irresistibly engaging talent.
Julianna Barwick's ethereal looping has the uncanny ability to adapt to the space in which she performs - be it a church, warehouse, museum - or Dogfish Head Craft Brewery's brew house. In late 2013 Dogfish Head Founder and President Sam Calagione celebrated the brewery's 18-month expansion by inviting Julianna to perform in the newly renovated space and collaborate on a unique brew. This June, Dogfish Head will release that special brew, Rosabi, a well-hopped Imperial Pale Ale (featuring a touch of red rice & wasabi), along with Julianna's "Rosabi" EP, which incorporates the symphony of sounds found in the brewing process. The 10-inch record will be released in a limited edition of 1,000, sold only in sealed cases of six 750ml bottles of the 8% ABV Rosabi, and as a digital EP via Dead Oceans on June 3rd.
Nepenthe (2013) was recorded in Reykjavik, Iceland, produced by Alex Somers (Sigur Rós, Jonsi, Alex & Jonsi) and includes string ensemble Amiina, guitarist Róbert Sturla Reynisson from MĂºm, and a choir of teenage girls. The music of Nepenthe was influenced by the unfamiliar surroundings of Iceland itself, with its vibrant music scene and stunningly alien landscapes with their lingering magic.
"[Nepenthe] deserves mention among the best and most artful ambient music being made todayâ€¦” - Pitchfork, Best New Music
7" single released on Suicide Squeeze in 2013 - neither side is available on Julianna's albums. "Pacing" features Barwick's voice and ethereal harmonies, "but it's a bit of a diversion from the vocal loop-based songs I tend to make" says Julianna. The B-side, "Call," is a frail and passionate solo piano piece.
Pitchfork heralded The Magic Place as a "Best New Music" pick and on their Top 50 album list in 2011. The Magic Place made the BBC Music Writers Top 25 of 2011, the Village Voice Pazz & Jop Top 100 of 2011, NPR Music editor Stephen Thompson and Pitchfork editor-in-chief Mark Richardson selected The Magic Place for their personal Top 10 lists for 2011. "Her ethereal multi-tracked harmonies have the devotional quality of gospel choirs, and the oddball allure of Bjork or Yoko Ono" - The New York Times
Recorded in a bedroom in 2006, Sanguine features 13 looped compositions that formed the basis of Julianna Barwick’s sound. The vinyl LP version features deluxe packaging with gold foil stamping.
"Sanguine is more stripped down and simplistic than her later work, and endearingly so. Working with a loop pedal and a spontaneous instinct she layers her glossolalic coos, murmurs and sighs into harmonised chorales inspired by a love of boys choirs and deeply reminiscent of the finest moments from Cocteau Twins, Björk, Grouper, Panda Bear or How To Dress Well, conducting herself with an effortless, haunting grace and enigmatic presence which is truly magical to behold. It's hugely recommended." - Boomkat
"A magical and otherworldly recording" - Norman Records
Florine (2009), Julianna's second self-released album, evolves and expands on the sound of Sanguine, and received an 8.2 rating from Pitchfork.
“Florine feels bracingly intimate and original, in its own hieroglyphic wayâ€¦elegiac, magnificent aura.” - Pitchfork
“Amazing.” - PopMatters
"Dizzying and beautiful at once, it is unlike anything else from 2009." - Dusted