Record Label: Dead Oceans
Enchanting and rich in secrecy and choral elegance, "Nepenthe" is a glimpse of a far- away paradise
If artists could win awards for the ability to create pictures and atmospheres without the use of poetry or prose, Julianna Barwick would certainly be a venerable contender for the title of maverick, running alongside the likes of Mogwai. You need look no further than "Nepenthe" for evidence of that. Barwick's second full- length album, it's both a twinkling, spiritual glimpse of a far away paradise that humans can only hope to one day reach, as well as an account of Barwick's journey and time spent there. It's both a story and a presentation told with few words, favouring swelling but stripped back instrumentation and filling, soaring harmonic vocal constructions.
"Offing" is the record at it's most fragile, although it presents siren- like, layered choruses rising from the crackle, ever- progressing but deliberately leaving the beauty to be fulfilled by the next track "The Harbinger." It's an astonishingly beautiful track, combining heavy handed piano chords and eventually heartbreaking crescendos as it becomes evermore empowering and atmospheric.
"Pyrrhic" sees the instrumentation expanded ever- further to entail weeping violins and incredible symphonic hums. Similarly, "Look Into Your own Mind" finds the rising but steady instrumentation an ideal backdrop for the atmosphere drenched vocals anyway.
The evident enchantment of the world Barwick is seemingly trying to depict on "Nepenthe" is sometimes even out of her reach. Nevertheless, her narrative is utterly engulfing, occasionally breathtaking, and a sonic journey you'll find hard not to lose yourself in.
Key Tracks: The Harbinger, Look Into Your own Mind
For fans of: Grouper, Sigur Ros