|Julianna Barwick — Will (May 6th, 2016)|
Julianna Barwick — Will (May 6th, 2016)Ξ↑Ξ Její soundscapes jsou postavené kolem několika smyček a vrstev jejího andělského hlasu. Vychutnáš si ho už v úvodní písni z devíti. Druhá polovina od písně Wist podle západní kritiky začíná pomalu ztrácet na poutavosti, já si myslím pravý opak: Juliin chladivý zpěv se odráží od pomalu se pohybujícího synkopovaného klavíru (6), přesto i tyto písně odrážejí posun v jejím přístupu; tam, kde jiní se schovávají za grandiózní produkce, ona se nebojí být malá. Přistupuje ke zvukům relativně měkce, jak to jen Moog dovolí, a tato její flexibilita umožňuje další organické rozvinutí témat, vzestupy a pády alba. To přichází v jejím nejrušnějším období, namátkou — její činnost zahrnovala hru na klavír pro Yoko Ono a vystoupení k 25. výročí Tibetského domu, což byl benefiční koncert po boku Flaming Lips a Phila Glasse. Album tedy odráží měnící se situace, desítky tranzitů a neustálý pohyb v jejím životě. Nicméně, album Will poskytuje poutavý důkaz o jejím neodolatelném talentu. Konkrétně opět vidím, že zůstává posedlá smyčkami, takže spíše než by psala písně, ona je staví na měnících se fasádách s nepravidelným designem. Je to zvuk umělkyně, jehož tajemný a oslavovaný proces postupného budování by paradoxně mohl dotvořit divadelní a kurátorskou práci pro jiné instalace a to nejen tímto albem, ale už samotnou spoluprací k finálnímu dosažení pocitu jemnosti jakékoli nahrávky. Will finds Barwick more vulnerable than ever as a performer.
Location: Louisiana ~ Brooklyn, New York, NY, U.S.
Album release: 06 May 2016
Record Label: Dead Oceans
1 St. Apolonia 2:14
2 Nebula 5:35
3 Beached 4:09
4 Same 4:56
5 Wist 2:41
6 Big Hollow 5:30
7 Heading Home 3:58
8 Someway 4:31
9 See, Know 5:04
℗ 2016 Dead Oceans
BY JONATHAN WROBLE, APRIL 12, 2016 / SCORE: ****½
Ξ↑Ξ “Hypnotic” is often used to praise the work of ambient artists, but it can also describe music that drifts out of focus. This isn’t lost on Julianna Barwick, who’s said the trickiest part of writing is editing her 20–minute loops of voice and spare instrumentation into cohesive songs, and on Will she strips her sound to its most necessary components. This is an album of rhythm, restraint, and rough edges. Compared to her previous efforts, 2013’s Nepenthe especially, it’s an exposed skeleton, with Barwick’s mastery of ambiance, choreographed crescendos, and swollen, show–stopping hooks giving way to a charming intimacy.
Ξ↑Ξ This newfound minimalism is likely no easy feat for an artist so skilled at drafting infinite echoes of her own voice. Will’s production reportedly required several distinct locations and experimentation with new instruments, and its understated sound doesn’t so much betray this ethic as magnify the purposeful simplicity of Barwick’s compositions. “Beached” is endearingly amateurish, its haunting piano motif plodding along unsteadily, as if it’s being sight–read. Similarly, the sudden apparition of piano and strings halfway through “St. Apolonia” suggests that the set musicians showed up late, and the way the song opens with the whirring of wind and waves — sounds to which Barwick’s coiling vocals are routinely compared — knowingly reiterates that her songwriting is separate from, and bigger than, the atmosphere it creates.
Ξ↑Ξ Will also finds Barwick more vulnerable than ever as a performer. Instead of a soft base layer of choral loops, frequently the backbone of her songs, several tracks operate cleverly on repetitive synth lines, allowing Barwick to use her voice as an improvisational flourish. “Nebula” and “See, Know” both come to life with pulsating, eight–note synth sequences — delicate on the former, punishing on the latter — above which Barwick sings actual words, a rarity for her, and shares spotlight with the shifting dynamics of the instruments (including manic drumming on “See, Know,” albeit low enough in the mix to merely suggest, not mandate, a sense of severity).
Ξ↑Ξ Elsewhere, “Same” is an intriguing mix of robotic, downcast synth chords with the aching optimism of Barwick’s voice — especially near its end, which features the exotic, cavernous whooping increasingly favored by acts like M83 (the song seems to move in opposite directions at once). If Barwick’s vocal circuitry of old had an anonymizing effect, where she manipulated her voice until one almost forgot it was hers, the careful balance of instruments and singing on Will makes the vocals recognizable, even personable. In short, she sounds remarkably unburdened.
Ξ↑Ξ Will loses some steam with a string of more traditional ambient songs during its second half: “Big Hollow” is a retread of Brian Eno’s Music for Airports, its chilly vocals reverberating beneath slow–moving, syncopated piano, while “Wist” does little but float along. Yet even these songs reflect a shift in Barwick’s approach; where she used to hide behind grandiose productions, she’s now unafraid to be small. There’s a softness to the organic unfolding of the album’s highs and lows.
Ξ↑Ξ As Will comes to a close with “See, Know,” on which Barwick repeats the title on end, it’s hard not to think back to opener “St. Apolonia,” which also features lyrics that sound vaguely like she’s singing “see” and “know.” This might be Barwick nodding to her obsession with loops, and to her reputation as someone who builds songs more than writes them, or maybe it’s merely a coincidence on an album of captivating near–accidents and irregular design. Will’s coup is how it keeps one guessing, and how Barwick keeps from relying on the beautiful yet impersonal sonic washes of her past work. It’s the sound an artist, whose mysterious and celebrated process has ironically created theatrical and curated work to this point, finally achieving subtlety.
Ξ↑Ξ Julianna Barwick s revelatory third full–length, “Will”, is the Brooklyn experimental artist s most surprising left turn to date. Conceived and self–produced over the past year in a variety of locations, the electric Will departs from the weighty lightness of 2013 s Nepenthe. If Nepenthe conjured images of gentle fog rolling over desolate mountains, then Will is a late afternoon thunderstorm, a cathartic collision of sharp and soft textures that sounds ominous and restorative all at once.
Ξ↑Ξ Will comes off of Barwick s busiest period in her career to date following Nepenthe a spate of activity that included playing piano for Yoko Ono, performing at the 25th annual Tibet House Benefit Concert alongside such kindred spirits as the Flaming Lips and Philip Glass, the Rosabi EP and an extensive touring schedule that included her first–ever shows in Japan.
Ξ↑Ξ Her life over the past several years has largely been lived in transit, and as such the genesis of Will was not beholden to location; Barwick reflects on this cycle of constant motion. DzYou re constantly adjusting, assimilating, and finding yourself in life–changing situations.
Ξ↑Ξ That sense of forward propulsion is largely owed to what Barwick describes as Will s Dzsynthy flava,dz an ingredient she was inspired to add to her vocal loop–heavy formula after demoing equipment for synth maker Moog. Another new wrinkle Will introduces in Barwick s sound: Mas Ysa s Thomas Arsenault, who lends his richly complex vocals to DzSamedz and DzSomeway.dz The beguiling, beautifully complicated Will is the latest proof yet of Barwick s irresistibly engaging talent.
Ξ↑Ξ Louisiana–bred, Brooklyn–based recording artist Julianna Barwick crafts ethereal, largely wordless soundscapes, all of which are built around multiple loops and layers of her angelic voice. Barwick, who credits a rural, church choir upbringing for her unique sound, begins most tracks with a single phrase or refrain, then uses a loop station and the occasional piano or percussive instrument to build the song into a swirling mass of lush, ambient folk. She released her first two collections of songs, the full–length Sanguine and the EP Florine, in 2009 and 2010, respectively, before issuing her Asthmatic Kitty debut, Magic Place, in 2011. Barwick kept busy in the time between her proper albums with various collaborations and smaller releases. In addition to remixing a Radiohead track, she collaborated with Ikue Mori on an entirely improvised album, did guest appearances on various friends’ albums and formed the duo Ombre with Helado Negro, releasing the collaborative album Believe You Me in 2012. A 7" single entitled Pacing preceeded her third proper solo album Nepenthe in 2013, this time around being released by Dead Oceans. ~ James Christopher Monger
|Julianna Barwick — Will (May 6th, 2016)|