Julianna Barwick | Florine

Emusic (2009)
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  December 2, 2009
3.0 3.0 Stars


When someone describes an album as “hmmm, I dunno, sort of like Enya if she were from Brooklyn” — that person is not setting you up for success with said album. I realize I’m guilty of doing just that, but part of the glory of Julianna Barwick’s Florine EP comes from allowing its luminous beams to lift you from the doldrums of your a cappella cynicism.

Yes, Florine (save for a few saturated synths and subdued bass beds) is almost entirely a vocal album, but Barwick’s approach doesn’t veer toward aberrant experiment (like, say, Björk’s Medulla), and it certainly doesn’t make me crave a bubble bath with a unicorn at the base of a rainbow the way the aforementioned Ms. Ní Bhraonáin does. With little more than a mic and an echo pedal, Barwick’s music glows somewhere between shoegaze (Cocteau Twins, especially) and choral music (she grew up singing in church) — though I swear on “Cloudbank” she’s learned some whale calls.

On “Bode,” the undulating layers of her voice approach the sheen of a brass section, whereas “The Highest” finds her streaking across the top of the track like a spray of cirrus clouds. Aficionados of ambient music might moan over Florine’s sometimes frustrating lack of low end, but for those with an open mind, a long drive, and/or a large joint, Barwick provides one of this winter’s prettiest half-hours.

Related: Rihanna | Rated R, Elvis Presley | Elvis 75: Good Rockin' Tonight, Wanting more, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Entertainment, Entertainment, Music,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   FOLK ACT  |  June 26, 2010
    Vikesh Kapoor
  •   BOSTON PRIDE WEEK: OFF THE MAP  |  June 07, 2010
    We may seem a little cranky, but us local gayfolk just love a parade, and we’re actually heartened by this annual influx of brothers and sisters from every state of New England and every letter of our ever-expanding acronym.  
  •   THE NEW GAY BARS  |  June 02, 2010
    If I may channel the late, great Estelle Getty for a moment: picture it, Provincetown, 2009, a dashing young man with no discernible tan and an iffy T-Mobile signal languishes bored upon the sprawling patio of the Boatslip Resort.
    If the gradual polishing of Ariel Pink’s sound — and it’s not all that much more polished — puts his loyalists at odds with his albums, I count that as good news.
  •   MORE THAN HUMAN  |  May 26, 2010
    It’s hard to talk about Janelle Monáe when your jaw’s fallen off.

 See all articles by: MICHAEL BRODEUR