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Julianna Barwick | The Magic Place

Asthmatic Kitty (2011)
By LIZ PELLY  |  February 16, 2011

Julia Barwick new album The Magic Place
Julianna Barwick grew up singing hymns in churches in Louisiana and Missouri, and now the Brooklyn singer replicates those grandiose choir sounds as a solo artist, cloning and looping her own wordless vocals, stringing ambient patchworks with minimal instrumentation. The result is a kaleidoscopic dream where Björk, Grouper, Panda Bear, and the Cocteau Twins are heard, even though in reality it's just Barwick. Incorporating more instrumentation than her debut, her sophomore record begins with the hazy, hypnotic "Envelop," whose vocal and synth layers build into a melancholy, lyric-less mantra. Next, "Keep Up the Good Work" offers a whispery quilt of æthereal, higher-pitched optimism. The centerpiece is "White Flag," a five-minute soundscape that starts with a 12-second hummed phrase; it's looped, and dotted with higher pitches trembling in the distance. Those distant pitches grow closer — in two minutes, they've arrived as a spirited chorus, and the song acquires a tribal, earthy element. "Bob in Your Gait" is more straightforward, with no looping, just an echo box of reverberating vocal harmonies, muted guitar, and sparse piano. The one-woman choir may seem eccentric, but by the last of these nine vignettes, Barwick has accomplished what few purveyors of such pristine beauty can. Through its oddities, The Magic Place shines.
  Topics: CD Reviews , Cocteau Twins, songwriter, solo artist,  More more >
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