Album review: Julianna Barwick, “Will”

by Jon E. Lynch

Julianna Barwick, “Will”

Available: Friday, May 5, as a download, CD and LP via Dead Oceans

The notion or mere suggestion of experimental music as a descriptor can often be an instant deterrent for even the most open minded music appreciator. Many tend to gravitate or adhere to the familiar and outright abhor the challenge of the complex or non-linear. (I often consider this when having a discourse on music and the other person quips “Oh, I listen to everything.” No, no. You really don’t.) Most listeners want music with a hook or refrain, something for toe-tapping and sing-alongable, or easily contextualized, categorized or identifiable. For those a little more daring and willing to maybe try something out of their preferred wheelhouse, Julianna Barwick’s latest album is an easy, welcome digest.

On her third full-length, the Brooklyn-based pianist and vocal artist layers loops and sound textures over ambient, lilting drones. There are minimal(ist) discernible vocals, which allow the listener to concentrate on the lush compositions themselves. On the album, Barwick has contributions from Thomas Arsenault (aka Mas Ysa) and Dutch cellist Maarten Vos, along with percussion from Jamie Ingalls (Chairlift, Tanlines, Beverly). The resulting effort is a rich, down-tempo and contemplative electro-ambient mood record.

Recommended if you like Floating Points, Phillip Glass, Meredith Monk, Glasser, Jenny Hval or Mas Ysa.

Jon E. Lynch [email protected]

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