Friday, February 18, 2011

Julianna Barwick - The Magic Place (2011)

Make no mistake when comparing Julianna Barwick to other artists, some people say that she’s sort of the dream pop version of Björk’s Vespertine, and even though this may sound interesting I believe nothing can be further from reality. The works made by Björk when arranging voices is very northern, barbaric, and also a dream pop version of the playful nature of Vespertine is still a non explored territory, something that emerging Icelandic artists into Lo-Fi sounds maybe could explore, but the true nature of the composition in Björk is so sui generis that the only thing that has similar to Julianna’s work is the fact that voices are main part of the instrumentations, also on that note, people should really stop comparing Björk to anything that sounds “odd”.

That said, for a while now I’ve been following singer songwriter Annie Clark’s project under the name of St. Vincent, since a little bit before she hit the road with Sufjan Stevens (who I love even more); Annie does interesting incorporation of voices to decorate her songs, but Annie is not Lo-Fi and she mixes that little playful voices with heavy guitars and strong drums, then the name of Julianna Barwick came across in some work she did with St. Vincent and I knew I could expect great things from her, in 2009 there was one LP called “Florine”, and now Julianna is back with a wonderful second LP called “The Magic Place”. Immediately I wanted to know this place and wanted her to guide me there.

Julianna carefully puts layers of sound and echo siren like voices with deep mystery sounds, each song with a sentiment that grows layer by layer into almost unintelligible sounds that get closer until they finally break in this fantastic place. The LP is a concept that has life on its own, and the magic place is a dark sound running away until the break of dawn, when the sun shows what’s next to come, that moment on earth is captured with tribal African inspired singing and church like humming, an occasional piano give a severe look on details but in the end the light always come.

This LP is as beautiful and hypnotic as it can get, surely that’s why the music not only brings you to a place, but also lets you know in tiny details of sound that that place is magical, you can find peace, and rest. This time around there are no imperative intelligible words, still the music go from a simple proposition to a main argument, this is what Lo-Fi experimental folk is all about, some people say that dream-pop is somewhere hidden in this Magic Place, but I’ll let you be the judge of that while you enjoy this record.


1. Envelop
2. Keep Up the Good Work
3. The Magic Place
4. Cloak
5. White Flag
6. Vow
7. Bob in Your Gait
8. Prizewinning
9. Flown

Rate: 8/10

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