Home > Album Reviews, Double Nichols on the Dime > Review: Julianna Barwick – Nepenthe

Review: Julianna Barwick – Nepenthe


Julianna Barwick – Nepenthe (Secretly Canadian, 2013)

by Caleb Nichols

Like contemporaries Julia Holter and Anna Von Hausswolff, Julianna Barwick’s music is best described (in broad terms) as “art music” and her latest release, Nepenthe, finds her digging deeply into an experimental tradition that at times borders on something like “new age” (Enya comparisons, for good or ill, are sure to abound).

Barwick creates a mesmerizing ambient space on this gorgeous record, which feels transformational and soothing. Some listeners might conjure up comparisons to the early albums of Sigur Ros, and that would be fine, except Barwick rarely uses percussive elements in her compositions which is something that I think makes her sort of distinct in today’s lineup of the self-styled (or publicist-styled, I suppose) “avant garde” set.

This is dreamy and other-wordly music that would be perfect to align your crystals to, for your post-cardio cool-down, or you know, to light some candles to and just like, exist with.

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