Review: Julianna Barwick – The Magic Place

Released February 22, 2011–and reviewed here just in time for her show next Tuesday, April 3 at Fairchild Chapel–Julianna Barwick’s The Magic Place is a dove’s chirp of folky ambiance. The Louisiana-born, Brooklyn-raised artist’s debut album was much anticipated after three hit EPs.  The Magic Place is a chanting choir of phantasmal angels dipping in and out of the tiny serene lakes of your ear drums.  Imagine echoes of tonal whispers one on top of the other that make you forget that there is an anxiety-filled world waiting for you after the forty-five minute record is finished.  Barwick loops her own voice on top of itself again and again into an orchestration of competing hums.  The occasional piano or percussion is hardly noticeable, as the sheer number of transformations of her voice are so subsuming.  Off of Asthmatic Kitty Records, this ethereal pop fits the most important criteria of my music checklist: it is great for half-awake later afternoon naps.  If you can plan you day around it, try to lie in bed in a room with western lighting around six pm and let Julianna dive right into your half-dream half-daze.  Dinner will taste unbelievable, promise.  Just to retreat to a self-promoting tangent, chances are you’ll hear her on my show, ‘Rambunctious Syllabus’, each Wednesday from 10-11 am here on WOBC.

Some other good ways to listen that I’ve tried: while drawing patterns in colored pencil; sipping a smoothie on a porch; After settling into a warm bubble bath.

It’s great multi-task music.  It’ll put you in a zone, so to speak.  The bath, the food, the homework, it’ll all become strokes of gracefulness.  The secret about The Magic Place is that it can be anywhere that you are, it’s a state of mind.  Clearly, there’s no reason to miss this album.  And better to get acquainted before she comes to Oberlin so you can be alert for the scattered audible lyrics and sing along so you can join in on the chilled ecstasy.  All the eye contact you might make at this show will turn into tear contact.  A heightened sense of your own emotions, the feeling of your heat actually throbbing, what more could you ask for?  I’ve included the title track on this point.  The immense reverb and heaps of pounding joy are made for a spiritual sanctuary like Fairchild chapel.  The tracks sway between one and another and the whole album makes a nine-part journey.  Each one is like a new cavernous harbor of echo.  Each new long-extended tone is unique and keeps you attentive along this misty pilgrimage.  Definitely a gem to have here in the WOBC collection.

-J Dancy

The Magic Place

1.  Envelop
2.  Keep Up the Good Work
3. The Magic Place // Official Video
4.  Cloak
5.  White Flag
6.  Vow
7.  Bob in Your Gait
8.  Prizewinning
9.  Flown