Julianna Barwick has shared the first single from her new album, Nepenthe. "One Half" is a remarkable track that features the first ever definitive lyrics from Barwick. Slowly building from icicle tones, Barwick melts her vocals into the song's stream, slowly and in unintelligible waves, until, after an interlude (a train? the rain?), they snap into sharp focus. "I guess I was asleep that night, was waiting for..." From there, the sounds layer and swirl, flooding, rushing forward, swelling the banks and then withdrawing again as suddenly as a summer cloudburst. Interview Magazine (LINK TK) has shared "One Half" today along with a Q&A with Julianna.
Barwick will release Nepenthe, her third full-length album, on Dead Oceans on August 20. Recorded in Reykjav¡k, Iceland, in the dark cold days of February with Alex Somers (Sigur R¢s, J¢nsi, J¢nsi & Alex), Nepenthe is about the sensation of moving forward to find a way through difficult times and retain a feeling of hope. During recording, Somers, who produced & engineered the record, brought in local Icelandic musicians who turned out to make crucial contributions: string ensemble Amiina, guitarist R¢bert Sturla Reynisson from m£m, and a choir of teenage girls.
The biggest influence on Nepenthe was the unfamiliar surroundings of Iceland itself, with its vibrant music scene and stunningly alien landscapes with their lingering magic. "I was inspired just by being there, and the gorgeousness of that place," Barwick explains, "Your eyes can't believe what they're seeing. I walked home one night and got totally lost in Reykjav¡k. I ended up walking alongside the ocean - and it was glowing blue. It looked like it had a lamp underneath it. This is a completely different experience than recording myself in my Brooklyn bedroom."
Nepenthe is a work of art that is equal parts force and sheer beauty. The songs on it are an intimate and radiant array of light-dappled choral works, drawing a powerful sense of hope from the depths of despair.
The album is available now for pre-order at SCD, iTunes, Amazon and your local record store
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