FRACTURED AIR

The universe is making music all the time

Posts Tagged ‘Dead Oceans

Fractured Air 39: Call Across Rooms (A Mixtape by Julianna Barwick)

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The Brooklyn-based composer Julianna Barwick has firmly established herself as truly one of the most wholly unique artists making music today. Barwick has released three LPs to date: ‘Sanguine’, her 2006 self-released debut full length; ‘The Magic Place’ (Asthmatic Kitty, 2011) and ‘Nepenthe’ (Dead Oceans, 2013). Barwick has also recorded as a duo (alongside fellow Asthmatic Kitty artist Helado Negro) under the OMBRE guise; the stunning collaboration has thus far resulted in debut LP ‘Believe You Me’ (Asthmatic Kitty, 2012). Born in Louisianna and raised in Missouri, Barwick’s love for music stemmed from her participation in school choirs during her formative years. Current LP ‘Nepenthe’ (in Greek literature ‘nepenthe’ was a magic drug to wipe out grief and sorrow) was recorded in Reykjavík and features contributions from some of Iceland’s most treasured artists (Amiina, múm guitarist Robert Reynisson and producer Alex Somers).

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Fractured Air 39: Call Across Rooms (A Mixtape by Julianna Barwick)

To listen on Mixcloud:

https://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/fractured-air-39-call-across-rooms-a-mixtape-by-julianna-barwick/

 

Tracklisting:

01. Moses Sumney ‘Man On The Moon’ [Self-Released]
02. Jessica Pratt ‘Wrong Hand’ [Drag City]
03. Jenny Hval ‘Sabbath’ [Sacred Bones]
04. Helado Negro ‘Young, Latin & Proud’ [Other Music Recording]
05. FKA twigs ‘Closer’ [Young Turks]
06. Hundred Waters ‘Broken Blue’ [Owsla]
07. Wet ‘Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl’ [Neon Gold]
08. Grouper ‘Call Across Rooms’ [Kranky]
09. Arthur Russell ‘Losing My Taste For The Night Life’ [Point Music]

Compiled by Julianna Barwick. The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or their respective record labels. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.

 


 

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‘Nepenthe’ is available now on Dead Oceans.

http://www.juliannabarwick.com/
http://www.deadoceans.com/

Written by admin

July 14, 2015 at 2:28 pm

Mixtape: Just Like Anything

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Just Like Anything [A Fractured Air Mix]

To listen on Mixcloud:

https://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/just-like-anything-a-fractured-air-mix/

 

Tracklisting:

01. We Like We ‘I Began To Fall Apart’ [The Being Music]
02. Sufjan Stevens ‘No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross’ [Asthmatic Kitty]
03. William Ryan Fritch ‘_a renewed sense’ [Lost Tribe Sound]
04. Mute Forest ‘Volcanoes Flowing’ [Lost Tribe Sound]
05. Kenny Burrell ‘Chitlins Con Carne’ [Blue Note]
06. Bert Jansch ‘The Blacksmith’ [Charisma]
07. Ryley Walker ‘Primrose Garden’ [Dead Oceans]
08. Jackson C. Frank ‘Just Like Anything’ [Columbia/Castle Music]
09. Peter Broderick ‘Red Earth’ [Bella Union]
10. Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld ‘The sun roars into view’ [Constellation]
11. Colleen ‘Captain Of None’ [Thrill Jockey]
12. Sebastian Mullaert ‘Lat Björkarna Vissna’ [Mule Electronic]
13. Hauschka ‘Pripyat’ [City Slang/Temporary Residence]
14. Noel Ellis ‘Dance With Me’ [Summer/Light In The Attic]
15. Augustus Pablo ‘Dub Organizer’ [Kaya/Tropical]
16. Calexico ‘Cumbia De Donde’ [City Slang/Anti-]
17. Batha Gèbrè-Heywèt ‘Ewnet Yet Lagegnesh’ [Manteca]
18. Tape & Bill Wells ‘Fugue 3’ [Immune]
19. Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat ‘We’re Still Here’ [Chemikal Underground]

The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or their respective record labels. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.

To follow Fractured Air you can do so on Facebook HERE, or Twitter HERE.

 

Mixtape: So Etched In Memory

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So Etched In Memory [A Fractured Air Mix]

To listen on Mixcloud:

https://www.mixcloud.com/Fractured_Air/so-etched-in-memory-a-fractured-air-mix/

 

Tracklisting:

01. Adrian Crowley ‘The Wild Boar’ (excerpt) [Chemikal Underground]
02. Benoît Pioulard ‘So Etched In Memory’ [Kranky]
03. Sam Prekop ‘Invisible’ [Thrill Jockey]
04. The Declining Winter ‘The Declining Winter and the Narrow World’ [Monopsone]
05. Katie Kim ‘Wicked Game’ [Bandcamp]
06. Low ‘Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me’ [Chairkickers’ Music, Rough Trade]
07. Julianna Barwick ‘The Harbinger’ [Dead Oceans]
08. Bing & Ruth ‘TWTGA’ [RVNG Intl]
09. The White Stripes ‘This Protector’ [Sympathy For The Record Industry]
10. Unknown Mortal Orchestra ‘Multi-Love’ [Jagjaguwar]
11. Jib Kidder ‘World of Machines’ [Domino]
12. Panda Bear ‘Boys Latin’ [Domino]
13. Little Sister ‘Somebody’s Watching You’ [Light In The Attic]
14. The Band ‘Up On Cripple Creek’ [Capitol]
15. Bixy Guidry & Percy Babineaux ‘The Waltz Of The Long Wood’ [Tompkins Square]
16. Kenny Knight ‘All My Memories’ [Paradise Of Bachelors]

The copyright in these recordings is the property of the individual artists and/or their respective record labels. If you like the music, please support the artist by buying their records.

To follow Fractured Air you can do so on Facebook HERE, or Twitter HERE.
http://fracturedair.com

 

Chosen One: Califone

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Interview with Tim Rutili, Califone.

“This album feels like stitches. Like a healing to me. Like accepting scar tissue. Like a quilt.”

—Tim Rutili

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry

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A soft strum of acoustic guitar and delicate slide guitar serve the opening notes to Califone’s latest sprawling opus, ‘Stitches’ before Tim Rutili sings “A ghost of you comes clear as day” on the glorious prologue ‘Movie Music Kills A Kiss’. As ever, Rutili’s poetic words are implanted gracefully on a canvas of subtle details as a beguiling atmosphere is masterfully created. ‘Stitches’ marks Califone’s finest work to date, having somehow surpassed its 2009 predecessor ‘All My Friends Are Funeral Singers’ (also released on the ever-formidable Dead Oceans label). Several moments later on ‘Movie Music Kills A Kiss’, gentle piano notes and organ interludes ascend into the gorgeous terrain of vast sound. Before you know it, Rutili and co. have reeled you in, and the journey of ‘Stitches’ has — in a fleeting moment — lurked you in deep and far.

The album’s title-track epitomises the bold, creative spirit that permeates each and every pore of ‘Stitches’s beating heart. The cinematic gem is built on a brooding organ melody, performed beneath a divine ebb and flow of warm percussion, drums, electronics and bowed bass. The backing vocals by Jessie Stein further heightens the ambient dimension of ‘Stitches’, possessing a healing quality where a spiritual element prevails throughout. The lyrics of Rutili are words of redemption that feels like stitches, vital as the air you breathe: “Trying to get born all over again / without a wish without a lie / without dying all over again”.

As with previous Califone records, the immaculate production and layers of hidden detail — only to be unearthed many visits later — lies at the heart of ‘Stitches’ glorious, abstract canvas, serving the ideal backdrop to Rutili’s poetic prose. The distinctive baritone of Rutili is one of those sacred voices in music today whose songcraft forges an everlasting imprint on one’s heart and mind. For example, ‘We Are A Payphone’ — the album’s penultimate track — showcases how far Califone have come from the band’s debut ‘Sometimes Good Weather Follows Bad People’ from some thirteen years ago. Rutili had expressed his desire to strive towards “a clearer, more honest voice” on ‘Stitches’ and it’s markedly apparent to witness here. The first verse contains a sombre mood as Rutili asks “Is it too late to turn this around?” An honesty resides deep within the gospel-tinged gem, complete with a mesmerising horn section (performed by Keith B. Kelly) and violins (performed by Laraine Kaizer – Viazovtsev). Musically, ‘We Are A Payphone’ fits somewhere between Lambchop’s ‘Nixon’ and Hiss Golden Messenger’s latest ‘Haw’ L.P. such is the song’s sprawling brilliance. The combined visual and poetic elements creates an otherworldly sojourn into “earth and ashes” of despair and anguish yet an undying ray of hope lingers along the “treeline of the city”.

Episodes from the Bible find its way into several songs contained on ‘Stitches’. Says Rutili: “I’m fascinated with why some stories and characters resonate and last for thousands of years, and are so easily transposed onto all our lives and rites of passage, no matter how absurd or surreal they are.” The piano-led ballad, ‘Magdalene’ — with beautiful shades of John Lennon — is one such song; a spiritual lament or eternal prayer. Rutili’s vocals are exquisite, as an achingly beautiful pedal steel floats beneath the piano chords and Christian Keifer’s vocals and horns by Adam Busch form a symphony in full-bloom. As Rutili sings “Don’t let it take you down the rabbit hole / don’t let it take you in your black sleep days” on the opening verse, one feels the record’s meaning come to light where feelings and textures are stitched together. The impact is profound.

‘Moses’ begins with a stunningly beautiful string section accompanied with a soft ripple of piano notes before a sparse acoustic guitar enters the forefront of the mix. The intricate arrangements and production wizardry is clear to witness. Rutili’s poetic words evoke beautifully visceral imagery as a heartfelt longing seeps into the song’s headspace: “If I let myself need you how long before we die.” The added instrumentation of Robin Vining’s marimba and harmonium adds new shades and textures to the scintillating collage of sound unleashed by Rutili’s gifted cast of musicians. Next, ‘A Thin Skin Of Bullfight Dust’ changes the dynamic as soaring electric guitar tones and a myriad of percussion and electronics conjures up the sound of a blissed-out, Krautrock-infused rock anthem. Similarly, ‘Frosted Tips’ sees Califone turn up the dial with ‘Pinback’-esque rhythms as the fuzz bass of Tim Hurley creates an irresistible groove. The lyric: “In the old / Watching the new world die” resonates powerfully. Perhaps, those very words de-constructs the bare soul of ‘Stitches’ down to its aching core.

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‘Stitches’ is out now on Dead Oceans.

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Interview with Tim Rutili, Califone.

Congratulations, Tim, on the incredible new record ‘Stitches’. I’ve been a big fan of your music for some time, and ‘Roots And Crowns’, in particular, has been one of my most cherished records from my record collection. ‘Stitches’ as ever has the hallmarks of greatness, and Califone’s trademark qualities of immaculate production, song-writing prowess, abstract details, cross-border genres, and beautiful melodies. Please discuss for me this new album, and in particular the title and themes? For me ‘Stitches’ is a wonderful metaphor for the whole idea of keep on keeping on, and the power of redemption.

TR: Thanks!
This album feels like stitches. Like a healing to me. Like accepting scar tissue. Like a quilt. You’re right about the survival aspects and the redemption. It’s all in there. Hopefully anyone listening deep enough will find their own way with these songs and sounds.

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In terms of recording the album, I was very interested to read that this record was the first one made in your life where none of the work was done in Chicago. Please discuss the benefits this had for your songwriting and the recording? It must have been very inspiring to record across different cities — and indeed states — from Arizona, Texas and California. The effect of the landscape and sense of place must have filtered into the new songs?

TR: Chicago always feels like home to me no matter where I live. Finishing ‘Roots & Crowns’ and ‘Funeral Singers’ at Clava Studio in Chicago felt like going home. Really familiar and comfortable. We made most of the Califone records, from ‘Roomsound’ to ‘Funeral Singers’ in that studio, that space and the gear in it was a crucial element to everything we did.
Making ‘Stitches’ felt like being alone in the wilderness. Working with new people in new places affected everything and forced some necessary changes in the textures, sounds and even in the shape of the songs and the words. Bare skies, long drives, the desert and the ocean all made it into the songs. Putting very personal ideas against the backdrop of an enormous landscape definitely found it’s way onto this record. Is agoraphobia fear of wide open spaces? These songs were recorded in homes as much as studios. This one feels like starting all over again.

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I love the piano-led ballad ‘Magdalene’. It reminds me of The Beatles, and particularly John Lennon. The layers of instrumentation is such a joy to witness. Can you talk me through this song please, and indeed your memories of writing this gorgeous song?

TR: I think I wrote part of this while working on music for Braden King’s film ‘Here’…I knew quickly that it wouldn’t work for the film but that’s the first little recording of the piano part that I can find. I put the idea away for a while and revisited it when ‘Stitches’ recording started. I went into New Monkey, a studio in North Hollywood, with Griffin Rodriguez on bass and producing, Nick Luca engineering, I played piano and sang and Joe Westerlund played drums. We put the basic track onto tape live there.
We ended up finishing it at Griffin’s home studio with Eric Haywood on pedal steel and Tim Hurley and I adding guitars and synth and all kinds of noises. Stella from a band called Warpaint finished up the drums and Adam Busch played the horns. We tried to keep as much of it on tape and off the computer as possible. Griffin did an amazing job with that one. ‘Magdalene’ is anyone that’s ever been written out of anyone else’s story and lived through it. Jesus confuses me. There’s a lot of holes in that book. I’m still digesting.

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In the interim, between releasing the last Califone record in 2009, you wrote scripts, painted and collaborated on music for several films. I would love to gain an insight into these artistic ventures please? I am very interested to read about the painting aspect. I remember hearing Kurt Wagner say his love and interest in painting has helped him write songs, in particular Lambchop’s ‘Mr M’ record. I would love to learn about your creative process and how it is linked between these disparate projects you’re involved in?

TR: It’s all meditational stuff. Anytime I spend not thinking and making intuitive or instinctual creative decisions is time well spent and usually will feed into the songwriting process.
Working on music for films feels totally impersonal to me. I love that. There’s a game and a logic to it but there is also a part of it that is adding another layer to an already existing story. I don’t like to work on that stuff alone. I don’t really like recording alone. It’s good to have people around and collaborate on that stuff. I’ll usually hear and see things differently and make better and faster decisions if there are people around.
Painting, writing and songwriting are more abstract, solitary, very messy and very personal. Sometimes it’s about making a mess — spilling without thinking — being as receptive as possible and then shaping it into whatever it wants to be.

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As a songwriter, you must have many sources of inspiration. I love the storytelling aspect to the songs of Califone, and how your distinct baritone delivers these poetic lyrics. Can you shed some light please on the various records, songwriters and literature – be it poetry, novels, or otherwise – and any specific records you come back to, again and again?

TR: There’s a lot. I always go back to The Rolling Stones, Talk Talk, Bob Dylan, The Faces, Leonard Cohen, E.E. Cummings, Richard Brautigan, Robertson Davies, John Dos Passos, Einstürzende Neubauten, Robert Altman, The Velvet Underground, Tarkovsky, The Kinks, Pavement, Can, Ann Carson, Walt Whitman…on and on…

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I have many favourites on ‘Stitches’ but, for now, it must be ‘We Are A Payphone’. I love the feel to the song; the harmonies, the guitars, and gorgeous brass section. The feel is reminiscent of Buffalo Springfield and Lambchop’s ‘Nixon’. As the album’s penultimate track, it’s a fitting song to bring the journey of ‘Stitches’ to a cinematic close. Can you talk me through this song for me please, Tim? I feel the lyric of “we are a payphone waiting” resonates so powerfully. “Is it too late to turn this around” is perhaps my favourite lyric.

TR: Michael Krassner recorded the basic track for this live at his guest house in Phoenix. I played guitar and sang and Wil Hendricks played bass. It came quickly and we put it away for a while. A few months later we went to New Monkey in North Hollywood and Ben Massarella and Joe Westerlund added drums and percussion. We put them in a big room and had them play together along with the tracks that Wil and I had done then we put it away for a few months. Eventually we went back to Phoenix and started messing with it again. Michael’s friend Keith Kelly came in and did the horn work. Michael and I added some electric guitars. That song might be a celebration of the obsolete.

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I feel the honesty and openness to the lyrics is what makes ‘Stitches’ such a formidable album, and a true Americana masterwork, like previous Califone records. I was interested to read your concern was not to hide in the music. Is there a technique you have for writing lyrics? Is it a case of keeping a diary and writing notes or is it a case of ensuring a solitary process and just being focused and dedicated to writing?

TR: I think I just try to stay receptive and try to be as honest as possible within the abstractions of the songs. I’m pretty confused most of the time and try to write a little something every day without worrying about what it means.
Some of the songs on ‘Stitches’ started with blocks of words and some didn’t get lyrics until the last possible minute. It’s different every time. Some of this is just making yourself available for when it decides to come.

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What albums are you currently listening to?

TR: I’ve been listening to The Who and The Bee Gees (especially disco era) quite a bit lately.

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‘Stitches’ is available now on Dead Oceans.

http://www.califonemusic.com
http://www.deadoceans.com

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Written by admin

January 28, 2014 at 9:59 am

Chosen One: Julianna Barwick

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Interview with Julianna Barwick.

“I remember being like, a really tiny kid, sitting by the window and singing, and making up stuff, and making myself feel all emotional, you know. It’s just like, it’s always been that way. We always had a piano at home and then I was in choirs at school my whole life, basically. I just love music, I love making music.”

—Julianna Barwick

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry

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The unique and formidable artist, Julianna Barwick, is one of those special souls capable of conjuring up vast oceans of emotion through the art of music, by her distinct blend of life-affirming choral-based symphonies. The American artist – born in Louisianna, and raised in Missouri – has been responsible for some of the most captivating and illuminating music to have graced the earth’s stratosphere. Released in 2011, ‘The Magic Place’ has become one of my most cherished records, where an infinite array of hope and solace ascends into the slipstream of your mind. The eagerly awaited follow-up, ‘Nepenthe’ has been released into the world, merely a few days ago, and already, the album’s vital importance and momentous beauty is markedly apparent, like that of a cloudless sky or a crystal lake. As with all great art, the work bears the artist’s name, and Barwick’s latest opus, ‘Nepenthe’ represents yet another stirring voyage where both space and time stand still.

‘Nepenthe’ was recorded in Reykjavík, Iceland during the cold, dark days of February. In huge contrast to Barwick’s usual recording patterns – looping her voice and instruments alone in her Brooklyn bedroom apartment – the American artist was joined by producer Alex Somers (musician/producer of Sigur Rós, Jónsi, Jónsi & Alex), and some highly gifted local Icelandic musicians (string ensemble Amiina, guitarist Róbert Sturla Reynisson from múm, and a choir of teenage girls), brought in by Somers. A dream collaboration was born, where Barwick would compose and perform her transcendent music there on the spot – spontaneous and direct from the heart – and similarly, the cast of musicians would make their own interpretations of Barwick’s shape-shifting creations. In the words of Barwick: “I had never had anyone play on any record before, so this was a 180 turn.” The inspiration of Iceland – a place long adored by Barwick having been obsessed with Icelandic music for over two decades (the majority of her lifetime), from being blown away by Sigur Rós at a show in 2002 and much earlier, the first time listening to Björk’s debut album, having made the giant discovery in an Oklahoma mall. “I also was inspired just by being there, and the gorgeousness of that place. Your eyes can’t believe what they’re seeing. I walked home one night and got totally lost in Reykjavík. I ended up walking alongside the ocean – and it was glowing blue. It looked like it had a lamp underneath it. This is a completely different experience than recording myself in my Brooklyn bedroom.” Just like the artist’s reaction of disbelief to the gorgeous landscape that surrounded her, I’m utterly dumbfounded by the divine tapestries of windswept beauty that are distilled on ‘Nepenthe’, where the power and glory of music flows seamlessly into your heart and mind.

The album-title ‘Nepenthe’ is derived from Greek literature, which was a magic drug of forgetfulness used to wipe out grief and sorrow. The title had particular resonance for Barwick, who experienced a death in her own family in the middle of making the record. Furthermore, I feel the title serves the perfect embodiment of Julianna Barwick’s music, whose songs possess the ability to move you in such a deep and profound way. The healing power inherent in ‘Nepenthe’ – and indeed her previous albums – makes ‘Nepenthe’ an enriching experience. The work of art is both distinctive and immersive, where each sonic creation expresses deep emotion, that forms a curve of the horizon. Every aspect of Barwick’s music is heightened on ‘Nepenthe’, as the illuminating voice and heavenly instrumentation of piano, guitar, and strings are utilized on a grander scale. The result is nothing short of immaculate. The following quote from Claude Debussy resonates powerfully for Barwick’s music, and best describes her stunning artistic achievement, on this, her latest masterpiece:

“To music only is it given to capture all the poetry of night & day & of the earth & of the heavens, to reconstruct the atmosphere, then record the rhythm of the heartbeats.”

—Claude Debussy

Lead single ‘One Half’ is the exception, in that it is the only song on the new record that wasn’t created in Iceland. The song was in the composer’s head for many years, having been in the periphery, not quite yet in existence. The final entity blossomed into an enthralling modern-classical lament built around a repeating lyrical phrase that Barwick would keep with her: “I guess I was/asleep at night/I was waiting for”. The piece builds and builds, as Barwick’s mesmerizing vocals enters a gorgeous sense of oblivion. The delicate strings and notes of piano provides the ideal backdrop for Barwick’s soothing soprano. Album opener ‘Offing’ has the radiant dappling of a choral refrain, looped over a pristine cinematic landscape. The opening notes of Barwick’s voice takes me immediately back to the predecessor, ‘The Magic Place’, as the celestial harmonies bring forth a meditative mood, like watching a slow sun rise and catching the first glimpses of sunlight.

‘The Harbinger’ is the album’s centerpiece that erupts into a momentous climax. The song shares the glacial sonic terrain of Sigur Rós, and particularly the band’s untitled () album from 2002. Across almost six minutes, the piece captures mood perfectly, as pain and despair is dispelled into the soundscapes, yet the instrumentation of looped voice and piano provides the counterpoint of hope and survival. The wide dynamic range evokes such emotive feeling – whereby a cathartic process is ventured down – creating a world of force and beauty. The soaring emotion towards the song’s close is taken to new summits, where the music’s force moves like tectonic plates clashing against one another, deep beneath the ground. ‘Look Into Your Own Mind’ is an ambient gem filled with fragile strings and infinitely beautiful interwoven layers of Barwick’s joyous choral harmonies. The notes swell like the sound of the sea, as a stunning ebb and flow of looped vocals arrive on the shore.

‘Pyrrhic’ distills the Icelandic landscape into one glorious, sweeping movement. The sense of wonderment is etched across the composition’s sonic canvas. Brooding strings breathe powerfully beneath the ocean-floor of Barwick’s majestic harmonies. The large, expansive sound is clearly evident, as the sprawling arrangements – bearing the hallmarks of all great Icelandic music – diffuses into a realm of heavenly creation. ‘Forever’ is another milestone in ‘Nepenthe’. A teenage girl choir joins Barwick here, resulting in a crescendo of towering emotion. The piece begins with ambient flourishes of piano, recalling the likes of Virgina Astley. ‘Forever’ feels a like a dream upon waking. The clouds of sound cast shimmering light onto the land and sea below. Music as cathartic as this, undeniably has the power to heal, and to ultimately wipe out life’s grief and sorrow.

The central and awe-inspiring creative process of Barwick’s looped vocal harmonies lies at the heart of her artistic works. Nepenthe is no exception, despite the addition of the likes of Alex Somers, múm’s Róbert Sturla Reynisson and Amiina, who effortlessly complement new rays of light to Barwick’s array of light-dappled choral patterns. This beautifully natural, and spontaneous collaboration is a joy to witness as the sonic creations of ‘Nepenthe’ unfold before your very ears. As with all of Barwick’s works, a sheer joy of making music radiates from the enthralling soundscapes. Having been in church choirs her whole life, the vital importance of music, and devotion to her art, is the foundation of any work that bears the name of Julianna Barwick. As the voice is looped through delay-effect pedals – recorded in the heart of the moment – a wholly life-affirming sound is conjured up that forms ripples in the sea. This has been the case ever since hearing the opening notes of ‘Envelop’ from ‘The Magic Place’, a sense of enlightenment and enrapture is never far away.

‘Adventures Of The Family’ contains the prominent presence of piano and harmony, that coalesce together forming one organic whole. Barwick’s own mother – who would sing to her from a very young age – guests on ‘Nepenthe’. A beautiful and fitting testament to the special journey that this latest chapter of Barwick sends you on. The choral bliss of ‘Crystal Lake’ and ‘Waving To You’ are the final two songs on ‘Nepenthe’. The gradual ebb and flow of ‘Waving To You’ feels just that, a gentle and meaningful embrace of a close friend. ‘Nepenthe’, a voyage born from grievance and despair, is the life-affirming journey to the center of the heart.

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“Nepenthe” is out now on Dead Oceans.

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Interview with Julianna Barwick.

Congratulations on the new album. It’s really amazing.

Thank you so much. It was fun to make.

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I was a huge fan of your last album, ‘The Magic Place’ and on this album, all the songs are in full-bloom, where everything is on a grander scale and every aspect is heightened. I’d love for you Julianna, to talk about ‘Nepenthe’?

Well, I’ve been talking to Alex Somers, who produced it, for like a year. I went over to Iceland two different times in 2012. We didn’t come prepared with any music and made the music all there in the moment. It was my first time working with someone on one of my own records. The other records were made all by myself.
It was the first time having someone watching and listening and suggesting things and all of that, and I wasn’t exactly sure how that was going to feel. But it worked perfectly with Alex. We just had a great time. Most of the time, we were recording in his own home studio, but we did to get to spend a couple of days in Sunway studio which is like a dream studio. It was glorious and it was my first time in Iceland too. Of course I have been always intrigued by Icelandic music, like everyone else is. It was amazing and it was just a great experience.

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It’s amazing that the songs were born when you were out there in Iceland. I suppose it was a nice change for you to go from your bedroom environment, where you make your music normally, to a bigger setting with Alex Somers, someone you must have been a big fan of anyway, with Sigur Rós and all that?

Yeah, me and Alex and all of that stuff. I mean every association with this project was also very exciting. I was obsessed with Björk for many years, and then I was obsessed with Sigur Rós, so I’ve been really interested and excited in all things Icelandic music for twenty-something years now [laughs]. I remember buying – I never heard of Björk and I was in Oklahoma and just went to the mall and saw her album debut – this cd in a music store. I was like I have no idea what this is but this cover is crazy, the one where she has her eyes in front of her face, and I was like: “what is this?” I was thirteen years old. I took it home and I was like, “this is amazing!” I mean it’s a million different things. I already had a soft spot in my heart for Icelandic musicians for a long time. It’s all a dream come true, who wouldn’t want to do that?

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Even as well Julianna, it’s lovely to see the different musicians who are featured on the album. On paper it’s amazing in itself. Listening to the album, it works so well, it all blends in so beautifully – like the strings from amiina – you hear all the different elements and it’s just a wonderful sound.

I think it worked perfectly because I mean they’re obviously super-pro, amiina and Robbie from múm who plays guitar on the record. They can obviously play on anyone’s record no matter how that person works. But the way I make music and the way they make music is really kind of spontaneous, you know and it works from the heart, at the risk of sounding totally cheesy. We didn’t have parts written for amiina, I mean the girls just came into the studio and they would sit up by the console and they would listen, and start jamming it all and we would record. It was, you know, their interpretation of everything as well, I wasn’t telling them what to do. So, I mean it was really more special. And then Alex was like, I have a friend named Robbie who we should have him come in to do some stuff on his guitar, and I was like, sure. I didn’t know what that meant, I was imagining like, guitar solos. But of course he came in and he had thousands of sounds that he had made himself, so there are all these sounds on the record that he made, same thing, but worked by making some stuff on the spot, that are like shimmery, sounds that are like human breathing and beats and stuff that you’d never know was a guitar. And that’s what he did, and he did it on the spot too. It was just like a really cool process. I feel like we all made it together, even more, because everyone played what they wanted to play.

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That sounds lovely. Like your previous albums, it really has such a special feeling to it. The first song I heard off the new album was the single, ‘One Half’ and that’s amazing. I love how your words are like a haiku, the way it repeats over and over. I’d love to hear if the words themselves were in your head, you know, before the music was made?

Well, that’s actually the one exception for all of I what I just said of everything being made in Iceland. That was like the one song I sort of had in my head for years and I used to perform it, but of course it sounded totally different. It’s a song that would always pop into my head and I was like, I want to make that something for real for real, after five years of it hanging around in the periphery. I’d always said the same words and you know, I don’t often do that. I guess this time when I was making that song, however long ago that was, these were the words that just kind of, popped into my head. The lyrics don’t take much precedent over the sound of the music, which is what occurs to me first. The lyrics aren’t my forte, I guess you could say.

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The song that is my favourite at the moment is ‘The Harbinger’.

That’s my favourite.

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It’s just amazing you know, the dynamic range, and how it builds and the emotion, it really soars. It’s really amazing listening to it.

Oh, thanks. I love that one. That one had some sort of magic of how it came together that I couldn’t even begin to try to explain, you know. It’s all the weird parts from different stuff. I love that one.

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I’d love to hear Julianna about your growing up with music? It’s just listening to your albums, I don’t know how on earth you make the music. It just sounds so other-worldly, you know, your harmonies, the vocals. Music must have been very important for you at a young age?

Absolutely. It always has been for my entire life, and it’s always been something that I love to do. Just absolute joy singing and making stuff up. I remember being like, a really tiny kid, sitting by the window and singing, and making up stuff, and making myself feel all emotional, you know. It’s just like, it’s always been that way. We always had a piano at home and then I was in choirs at school my whole life, basically. I just love music, I love making music. Yeah, I tinkered around with playing guitar with effects pedals and it had a little 4-track and I messed around with that stuff a lot. But it wasn’t until I started looping and layering my voice and making stuff up on the spot, that it just clicked. It was like, this is just so much fun, I love this. So, I love doing it and it’s never like tedious thing, more like a spontaneous, in the moment, really kind of fast thing that happens. That’s why I never did music composition you know, singing in college. I did photography in college. I just didn’t want any part of my love of music to be weighted down by it being a drag to have to compose something or whatever, do you know what I mean. So, yeah it’s wonderful and it’s my favourite thing.

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As you say Julianna, the moment it clicked, and the looping and things. I wonder were there artists when you started creating music in this kind of way that inspired you to make your own music?

Not really. When I started doing this stuff, I didn’t know any kind of music like the music I was making. I think back in 2005 when I started doing this, I was probably listening to a lot of Sufjan Stevens and a lot of Joanna Newsom, just you know, stuff that doesn’t sound anything like mine. I can’t really explain it. My friend was like, “Hey Jules, check this out” and voiced myself a couple of times, you know being funny. “Can I borrow that?” I started messing around with it and made my first record, ‘Sanguine’. It just came out of me, naturally. Despite my upbringing and singing in classes and singing in Church and all of that, singing, singing all the time, and my love of sort of sweeping sounds, emotional vibes. I really don’t think there is like, I want to make music like that or where I got that, it just came out of nowhere.

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It’s very true, I mean obviously even just to describe your music, it’s not like there is any obvious reference points, really. It’s very much your own distinct sound, which is obviously a big compliment because listening to any of your songs just bears your name in a lovely way, like any other good artist.

Yeah that’s the main thing. I’m really happy to hear that’s true. I think that’s what I enjoy most about the artists that I love the most is that, you know they’re so unique and formidable, so that’s the music that I find myself drawn to, is the stuff that sounds good and new. The risk is not to sound like anything, the person is making this out of their own brain, obviously, and that’s what’s exciting to me.

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I love, Julianna, the title of the album. I wouldn’t have known, but I read that it was in Greek literature, ‘nepenthe’ was a magic drug to wipe out grief and sorrow. Even that in itself is a fitting title for your music because the songs themselves have that kind of, power to really do that. So, in a way, the title is a nice embodiment of the music, really.

Well, thank you. I feel like it’s the same for me to make it. I mean it’s definitely cathartic to make music, especially in the moment. So when you’re making up something on the spot, and you’re making it with your voice, there’s no way that you’re able, of how you’re feeling or your emotional state kind of, comes through. So it’s cathartic for me as well.

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Is Greek literature something you have an interest in?

Well, not at all, to be honest. I just found the word on a nerdy word blog, you know. It really looks cool too. The definition that it had on the blog was: “a potion used in ancient times to erase grief and sorrow” and I thought that was so cool. I love that and you know, there definitely were some moments in the making of the record, you know, just feelings. I was over there for a really long time. Outside of working with Alex, I felt lonely at times, you know it was dark and dreary on some days and had some different things personally going on, you know. Once I read that definition I just felt like it was a perfect fit. I just liked the idea of it, just drink up some liquid and your sadness goes away.

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It reminds me too of the film, ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’, you know that concept of erasing your memory.

Yeah, that’s one of my favourite movies. My top 3, one of my favourites. So maybe that’s one reason why it appealed to me. I love that movie, that movie is so great.

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One other thing Julianna, I’m just interested on your previous album, ‘The Magic Place’, it fascinates me how it’s a DIY/bedroom – this sound by yourself – I would love to gain an insight into this sort of world of yours where you’re making your music? It’s amazing how you do it, to loop all these different harmonies and loop it all together.

Well, yeah I don’t know. Like I said, it started really simply, like stuff on the first record was a bit popsical. So, I think I remember I had a mic and you know, a delay guitar pedal, into another pedal that had a loop feature and then record it into a 4-track cassette tape track machine. There were no computers involved at all. It was all like, machines and pedals and stuff. It was like a really personal thing that was really fun to do and that was all, and it never really changed.
Before the second ‘Florine’ EP thing I made, I got the RC-50 loop station where you can set a time and you can double-experiment and configure, and I started making it that way. Most of ‘Sanguine’ and ‘Florine’ and probably most of ‘The Magic Place’ was specifically a bedroom recording so it had its own pedals, and of course mostly everything was made up on the spot, and then pieced together later, and layers added later. So, it’s really fun to make it. It’s what I like to do.

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It’s obvious for me as a listener, you know, that it’s this joy of playing that really comes off the recordings and as you listen to the music, you really feel that – this love of music – that really shines off the album itself.

Well, thanks and it’s totally true. That kind of runs in my family, on my mom’s side. My mom was always singing too, when I was growing up. She has a beautiful voice and that’s why I had her sing on the record, and she’s on there.

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Oh, she’s on there, wow, that’s lovely.

Yeah, it’s pretty cool.

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You’re currently residing in Brooklyn. It must be a nice base for you to be making music?

Absolutely, there’s so much happening there, it’s motivating, definitely.

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Well, congratulations again Julianna on the new album. I can’t think of good enough words to describe how amazing it is.

Well, thank you. I really can’t wait to release it into the world.

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‘Nepenthe’ is out now on Dead Oceans.

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http://www.juliannabarwick.com
http://www.deadoceans.com

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Written by admin

August 20, 2013 at 10:04 am

Step Right Up: Gauntlet Hair

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The new sophomore full-length player from Chicago-based duo, Gauntlet Hair heralds the latest release from the U.S independent label du jour, Dead Oceans. The label has been responsible for several stunning records so far this year – the soon-to-be-released ‘Nepenthe’ album by Julianna Barwick, indie-giants Califone and Akron/Family, and not least, Matthew Houck’s Phosphorescent. Gauntlet Hair fuse exhilarating worlds of brooding synth-based pop and multi-layered indie opuses that provide a sonic haven for any lover of indie music, in the truest sense.

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry

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Gauntlet Hair is the collaboration between drummer Craig Nice and singer/guitarist Andy R. The duo released their debut self-titled album in 2011, having released singles on prestigious labels such as Mexican Summer and Forest Family. ‘Stills’ is the title of their new record that encompasses a world of post-apocalyptic, where dark tones penetrate the headspace. The result is an immaculately produced and intricately layered sonic exploration into the heart of darkness. At the heart of ‘Stills’ is vintage rock ‘n’ roll; alive with pulsating beats and infectious melodies that makes for a formidable journey. ‘Stills’ was recorded in Portland, Oregon, during the cold of winter in “The Cave”, which is the name of the recording studio utilized by producer Jacob Portrait.

Album opener ‘Human Nature’ begins with pulses of bass and the meditative harmonies of Andy R. The opening notes are reminiscent of Royal Trux, where a cosmic spirit of deeply affecting rock ‘n’ roll breathes deeply into your bloodstream. Later, the drone of bass evolves into blissed-out guitar noise and anthemic beats. An anthem is born. The opening refrain is glorious, as it circulates along a whirlwind of nuanced guitar soundscapes: “When it comes out / It’s all I see / That’s when they tell me / It’s just your human nature.” A sense of euphoria escalates as a crescendo of dazzling beats and haze of guitar and synths conjures up the timeless sound of The Jesus And Mary Chain, as the lyrics reflect the epitome of cool: “They tell me that I make you smile one time a week.”

‘Spew’ contains a sublime slowed-down groove that magnificently fades into the mix. The opening bassline funk recalls another indie-classic from 2013, namely ‘II’ by Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Interestingly, Jacob Portrait – who produced the Unknown Mortal Orchestra – is also on production duties here. Many beautiful parallels can be made between ‘II’ and ‘Stills’. Endless possibilities are attained in both records, where a musical vision brings forth illumination to the compelling sonic terrain. Much like ‘II’, a plethora of genres are seamlessly combined – psychedelia, funk, indie-pop, soul – that endlessly pushes the envelope. The vocals on ‘Spew’ reign supreme, and particularly on the opening verses, Jason Pierce’s Spiritualized can be an obvious reference point. The song builds into a divine funk-infused rock treasured creation.

The soulful strut of ‘Simple’ is a pristine funk cut that shares the sonic explorations of Ruban Nielson’s latest venture, ‘II’ and particularly, ‘So Good At Being In Trouble’. 60’s pop harmonies are interwoven between the Funkadelic-esque guitars and frenzied drums. The crystallization of psychedelic pop is formed here, as Andy R. sings “I am alive but I shouldn’t feel it.” ‘Bad Apple’ for me, is ‘Stills”s towering achievement. The vocals are whisper-like, that melt into the odyssey of clean guitar tones and irresistible pop hooks. A record that immediately comes to mind is ‘Veckatimest’ by Grizzly Bear. The Brooklyn band are responsible for some of the most compelling indie songs of a generation, and ‘Bad Apple’ has the hallmarks of Droste and co.’s wall of sound. The atmospheric soundscapes of synths, keys and guitar creates a dreamy pop canvas of technicolor sound.

‘New To It’ begins with drum machines and post-punk flavours of bass and beats. The song is slow and entrancing that seeps slowly into your brain. Yet again, more sounds are ventured down, from dub textures to psychedelic flourishes. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti comes to mind. ‘Obey Me’ begins part B of ‘Stills’ that tweaks with 80’s pop of Depeche Mode. The sequencing is wonderful, as the song fades perfectly into the fury of ‘Heave’. The duo’s teenage selves comes to the fore here, as they wear their influences on their sleeve. Says Nice, “I started listening again to the stuff I would have in my discman in the back of mom’s car. White Zombie, Marilyn Manson — the production on those records is so amazing. Nothing sounds like that anymore.”

‘GID’ is another highlight. Similar to Nice’s feelings of the production of Manson’s records, a pristine production of 80’s pop ascends before you, in their scintillating waves. INXS and New Order are etched on the canvas. A swirling sound of synthesizer – conjuring up the sound of heart-drenched strings – forms a gorgeous break in the song – before tear-stained harmonies mounts to the foreground. ‘Falling Out’ contains washed out guitars and a funk-driven beat, before hysteria of ‘Waste Your Art’ brings ‘Stills’ to a momentous close.

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“Stills” is out now on Dead Oceans.

http://gauntlethair.net
http://www.deadoceans.com

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Written by admin

July 29, 2013 at 11:01 am

Ten Mile Stereo

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Holden “The Inheritors” (Border Community)
James Holden’s incredible follow-up to his debut LP “The Idiots Are Winning” has been some seven years in the making. Heralded by both Four Tet’s Kieran Hebdon and Caribou/Daphni’s Dan Snaith of late, the album comprises a set of genre-defying tracks and is destined to remain at “classic” status for a long, long time to come.

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Jon Hopkins “Immunity” (Domino)
“Immunity” is the fourth solo album from Jon Hopkins and is destined to catapult the Eno collaborator to international recognition. The final epic title-track features King Creosote (who collaborated with Hopkins on the sublime “Diamond Mine”) and leaves the listener marvel at what Hopkins has created here.

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Lee Noble “Ruiner” (Bathetic)
My first time coming across the wonderful Bathetic label – based in Asheville, NC – was through Angel Olsen’s classic LP “Half Way Home”. Lee Noble’s “Ruiner” is another classic belonging to the label, comprising unique ambient/pop songs recalling Radiohead, Grouper’s Liz Harris and richly evocative ambient textures as found on pioneering labels such as Chicago’s Kranky label.

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Camera Obscura “Desire Lines” (4AD)
Glasgow’s beloved Camera Obscura released yet another classic indie-pop album this year – lead by the singularly beautiful voice of Tracyanne Campbell – ‘Desire Lines’ is the band’s eagerly awaited follow-up to gorgeous “My Maudlin Career” (also on 4AD). As always, Campbell’s songwriting is pitch-perfect, while the song arrangements are sumptuously layered echoing Spector’s wall of sound (pristine production by Tucker Martine). Features guests Paul Brainard (Richmond Fontaine) on pedal steel, Neko Case and Jim James on backing vocals.

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Denseland “Like Likes Like” (m=minimal)
Berlin-based electronic label m=minimal have been quietly releasing an intriguing string of albums over the past year. “Like Likes Like” by Denseland (featuring Hanno Leichtmann, Hannes Strobl and David Moss) is a strangely compelling array of darkly textured, minimal compositions featuring the singular vocals of David Moss.

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Califone “Stitches” (Dead Oceans)
Indie favourites Califone return with the hugely anticipated “Stitches” LP this Autumn on the Dead Oceans label. The title-track has so far been uploaded – a beautifully fragmented and fragile song – as always lead by Tim Rutili’s stunning voice and masterful lyrics. The album was written and recorded across Southern California, Arizona and Texas and is available on 3 September.

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Hiss Golden Messenger “Haw” (Paradise of Bachelors)
‘Haw’ is one of the year’s finest albums and another milestone release in Hiss Golden Messenger’s stellar discography to date. As always, the songwriting by M.C. Taylor (encompassing songs of both struggle and pain as well as songs of joy and hope) is to the forefront while songs effortlessly fuse traditions of folk, blues, soul and gospel. Follow-up to the equally sublime “Poor Moon”, “Haw” is HGM’s fourth album.

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Colin Stetson “New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light” (Constellation)
Part three in the “New History Warfare” series, gifted composer Colin Stetson is fast-becoming independent music’s crowning jewel. Long-known and admired for his astonishing array of collaborative work (Tom Waits, Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, TV on the Radio to name only a few), Stetson’s reputation as a solo composer has quickly earned himself the reputation for one of contemporary music’s true leading artists.

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Laurie Spiegel “The Expanding Universe” (Unseen Worlds / Philo)
While we had the great honour of co-presenting Thrill Jockey’s Mountains for their concert in Cork, one of our highlights was listening to Koen Holtkamp talk so fondly about Spiegel’s seminal masterwork “The Expanding Universe”. It’s hard to imagine these recordings were made in 1980 as they sound as fresh and as innovative today. The lovingly expanded reissue from last year is a work of true beauty and confirms “The Expanding Universe” as one of the finest (and most influential) records ever made.

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Julianna Barwick “Nepenthe” (Dead Oceans)
The wait is finally nearly over for Julianna Barwick’s follow-up to her much-celebrated “The Magic Place”, released in 2011 on Asthmatic Kitty. So far, “Pacing” (released as a limited edition 7″) and “One Half” have been made available, whetting the appetite for what will surely be one of the year’s most defining albums. Whereas Barwick’s “The Magic Place” was recorded in her Brooklyn bedroom studio, “Nepenthe” was recorded in Iceland with Alex Somers (Sigur Rós, Jónsi). “One Half” is arguably Barwick’s most beautiful work yet. LP available 20 August.

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