We’re going back over our releases from last year and trying to pack a year’s worth of happenings into one post. Here are our thoughts on Julianna Barwick’s The Magic Place.
Before we get started, you should know that Julianna Barwick is touring Australia starting this Saturday. She’ll be at several festivals, including the Sugar Mountain Festival, Syndey Festival, and MONA FOMA. Full details are here, and you can read an interview about her and Australia here on Oyster Mag.
We signed Julianna back in March of 2010 after hearing her play live and listening to Florine, her superb 2009 EP. But we were really surprised when the final version of The Magic Place arrived at the offices. If Florine was a first taste of what Julianna was capable of producing, the new record was a fully realized work and nothing short of amazing.
Julianna's music builds in layers, evoking water, in its washes and waves. The Magic Place embodies a sense of hope. The song “Bob in Your Gait” contains grace, reverence, respect, patience—it sounds the way humans should treat one another. The title track is expectation, flowering into arrival. And the appropriately titled “Vow” sounds like a staggering, revelatory light.
We only release music that makes that kind of impression or that we otherwise consider the best of the best, which doesn’t always mean it's the most accessible. But in the last year, Julianna’s work has found a huge audience—from ardent independent music connoisseurs to, you know, normal people—and the album garnered a lot of fans quickly. Pitchfork included it on its Best New Music list. Reviewing the album for the site, Mark Richardson wrote, “The Magic Place is music for a specific constellation of feelings. They are real, many people share them, and this album owns them completely.”
The Magic Place also made it onto plenty of 2011 year-end lists. NPR mentioned the album on the air, during rush hour. Like we said, her music transcends boundaries.
Though it would have been perfectly acceptable to rest on her laurels, Julianna toured extensively last year (including a performance at Pitchfork’s SXSW showcase and Festival), and she collaborated with many other musicians. Most recently, she contributed to Sharon Van Etten’s new LP. In June, she performed an improvisation with composer and former DNA drummer Ikue Mori at New York’s White Columns gallery. The label Rvng Intl released a recording of the event as FRKWYS VOL. 6.
We released Julianna’s Matrimony Remixes in October, which features Diplo & Lunice, Helado Negro, Alias Pail, and Prince Rama. This year, Record label M’Lady’s will press a limited LP version of Julianna’s debut album Sanguine (preorder the deluxe reissue and hear samples here).
Julianna got a head start on 2012 by inaugurating Avant-Brunch, a new concert series in New York City. The editor of the Village Voice called the 1pm show “a nice way way to start the New Year and come down from a hangover.” (Read Capital’s piece on the event here.)
Last year, we gasped when we heard The Magic Place. It is one of the most beautiful pieces of music we’ve ever released. And now, we can’t wait to see what Julianna creates in 2012.