Julianna Barwick’s “The Magic Place”, David Lynch’s Soon To Be, Surely, Muse.

It’s hard to avoid using the E word when talk­ing about Julian­na Bar­wick. Her com­bi­na­tion of ethe­re­al, hyp­not­ic vocals with care­ful­ly con­struct­ed lay­ers of metic­u­lous­ly craft­ed sound con­jures up inevitable if unfor­tu­nate visions of Enya.

A more use­ful com­par­i­son might be with Liz Fras­er, and the sort of music that she and her fel­low 4AD sirens were pro­duc­ing with the likes of the Cocteau Twins, This Mor­tal Coil and Dead Can Dance. But there’s none of that angst with Barwick.

The waves of balm that she wraps you up in evoke instead the blissed-up chill-out calm of last year’s With­in And With­out from Washed Out, reviewed here ear­li­er, with the occa­sion­al echo of the qui­eter bits form Pan­da Bear’s Tomboy.

The Mag­ic Place is all of the above, and yet some­how so much more. For despite all that bliss, and calm, and chilled out, yawn, seren­i­ty, it’s an album that man­ages to avoid ever sound­ing in any way monotonous.

Which is remark­able. There are no lyrics to speak of, in the con­ven­tion­al sense. It’s essen­tial­ly a Min­i­mal­ist album, where each piece takes a motif which is then worked on, method­i­cal­ly, almost math­e­mat­i­cal­ly, up to vary­ing degrees of com­pli­ca­tion. And yet, there’s enough vari­a­tion through­out and across each of the nine tracks to draw you in and hold you there. And rather than ever becom­ing bor­ing, the more you lis­ten to it the more beguil­ing become its charms.

Offi­cial­ly, it’s her sec­ond album, but to all extents and pur­pos­es The Mag­ic Place is her first album prop­er and has been out for a year now. It got an impressed 8.5 from the boys from Prav­da http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/15147-the-magic-place/?utm_campaign=search&utm_medium=site&utm_source=search-ac. If you missed it first time around, treat yourself.

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