Friday, August 16, 2013

Artist of the Day: Julianna Barwick

A product of our age of all-encompassing online exposure, Julianna Barwick's unlikely recent success has been refreshing and intriguing in equal measure. A choral wonder often paralleled with big-selling star Enya, the Missouri native's breakthrough perhaps owes much to the serene sounds of Bon Iver, Beach House et al, with fans and indie hipsters alike following their lead in exploring comparable sonic pastures. That of course is not to say that Barwick's music particularly resembles theirs in style or commercial appeal - rather that its dazzling vocal exhibits and staggering eerie ambiance provide a logical destination for those inspired by such elements from other artists. Those who follow such paths path are, needless to say, in for a treat, especially now that her third LP Nepenthe is upon us.

Translated roughly as "no pain" from its Greek origins, the new record's title is very much indicative of the cleansing, ethereal pieces contained within. It's the type of album for which journalistic cliches like "glacial," "heavenly" and "angelic" could have been invented, and given it's one of the most relaxing musical propositions you'll hear all year, you have to admit the majority of them are justified. A clear step-up from 2011's The Magic Place and one with heaps of crossover potential, Nepenthe should cement Barwick as choral music's leading light, and if nothing else add to the extensive and surprisingly diverse following she's already amassed.


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