SONICALLY, THE MOVE from working with a looping gizmo in her Brooklyn bedroom to recording her new album in the panoramic splendor of Reykjavik is less apparent on this track from Julianna Barwick’s Nepenthe as it might have been. Such is Barwick’s gift for coiling and swirling her lone voice into an ascending chorus; she was always able to single-handedly create the impression of monks in the Imperial Vault of Heaven. Only now if you look behind the curtain you’ll find not just one poised, intelligent fan of the ’80s 4AD sound, but a whole choir of teenage voices, Sigur Rós producer Alex Somers and Icelandic string ensemble Amiina, all huddled together to expand Barwick’s ethereal sonic creep show. The song’s sinister beauty only gets spookier in the video, where Barwick appears to play herself twice, one fearful in the glare of surgical lights and an underground car park, another bathed in winter light, apparently laying waste to fruits of the forest with a ceremonial dagger. Make of that what you will. The song itself feels like a fragment from a vivid dream, remembered with heart-stopping clarity in the morning without ever really making conscious sense.
Luckily, you don’t have to live in either Brooklyn or Iceland to experience the song’s transportive beauty as Julianna Barwick will be bringing her solo show to London’s St Giles-in-the-Fields next Thursday, August 29 and to the End Of The Road festival in Somerset on August 31. She will also be opening for Sigur Rós on their North American tour in September and October.
Meanwhile, Nepenthe is out on Dead Oceans now and you can watch the video for One Half here: