A woman stands in a blank world, head down, eyes closed. She lifts her head and starts to sing, projecting her voice into the boundless nothingness. She begins to gently sway from side to side, as she’s steadily wrapped in the solitary sound. Her singing becomes a patch of grass upon which she stands; her singing becomes a lake that extends outward from the grass; her singing becomes the sky above everything. Her singing fills the world, like watercolors . . .
We all possess a musical instrument from the moment we enter this world, the first instrument to birth any trace of mellifluous sound: the human voice. Some singers simply translate the potency of emotions, while others fall into a rarer category of artists that create their own emotional realms with endless exploration and innovation. Will is the newest full-length from Brooklyn-based vocal experimentalist Julianna Barwick.
Armed with a bevy of synthesizers and a voice as piercingly pristine as an icy lake, Barwick constructs undulating swirls of achingly gorgeous sound that envelop listeners, transporting them to vast new worlds where loneliness becomes a communal experience. She loops and alters her wordless singing with effects, creating angelic harmonies that swell like ocean waves over atmospheric synth and piano melodies.
Although it’s more sparse and raw than her previous releases, Will excels because of those exact same components. Like Grouper, Barwick is a mastermind with building a sense of space in her compositions, and this record shows off her unique ability to fill that space with elements that appear as natural and organic as the world that surrounds us. If you’re seeking meditative, vocal-centered experimentalism, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)