Julianna Barwick - Nepenthe

by Greg Spencer Rating:9 Release Date:2013-08-19

Julianna Barwick's new album Nepenthe is one of absolute beauty and proves that ambient experimental music continues to be one of the most emotive and imaginative forms of musical expression out there. For someone who doesn't know an awful lot about this genre, what there is to know is that you have to plough head-first into the dream-like tones of Barwick and her choral vocals ehich entomb you as you take in this record.

The ambience of a song like 'One Half' plunges you into her world. The repetition of her vocals makes your hairs stand on edge and transports you to another place. Halfway through the song everything goes quiet and there's a rattling in the background, maybe gunfire, which adds to the otherworldly quality that this music has.

The whirring on 'Pyrrhic' glides you along like a river blue as the sky. There's darkness beneath, and although it doesn't reach the surface, you can feel it in the song, in its texture. There's beauty as well - just as the world spins, the music transmutes and brings us along with it, such as on 'Crystal Lake' where the orchestral sounds and angelic vocals literally paint pictures with sounds. Close your eyes and you're completely engrossed in this and it's perfection.

What's so impressive is that it doesn't feel like the album has gone overboard with the production or studio work. It's subtle in its delivery and this gives it a down-to-earth feel and therefore the music feels pure. It is one of the most surprisingly beautiful albums which will grace you're ears. The subtlety and the magnitude go hand-in-hand unlike so much modern music.

There's a feeling of simplicity throughout the album, that everything is going to be okay, so reviewing it doesn't need to be overcomplicated because it just needs to be heard.

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