Big changes are afoot for Asthmatic Kitty alumna Julianna Barwick, who is moving forward with the release of a new record on a new record label. Nepenthe, the follow-up to 2011′s highly acclaimed The Magic Place, will be released this summer on the prestigious independent label Dead Oceans, already home to such diverse artists as Frog Eyes, Califone, and Akron/Family.
Nepenthe marks a departure for Barwick in more ways than one. Like her concert performances, driven by live loops and effects, The Magic Place created complex, layered harmonies primarily using Barwick’s voice, with almost no instrumental accompaniment. A Brooklyn native raised in the South, Barwick named the album for a tree in the back pasture of the Louisiana farm where she grew up, and recorded it in her figurative backyard, at a Brooklyn rehearsal space.
With Nepenthe, the process was radically different. For her latest effort, named after a mythical potion for forgetting one’s sorrows, Barwick recorded in the dramatic landscape of Mosfellsbær, Iceland, at the Sundlaugin recording studios established by Sigur Rós.
Alex Somers, the band’s producer as well as half of the duo Jónsi & Alex with his partner, Sigur Rós singer Jón Þór Birgisson, produced and engineered the new disc, while other luminaries of the Icelandic scene contributed their performing talents. Performers from múm and the string quartet turned multi-instrumentalist ensemble Amiina contributed to the record, along with a whole choir of local young women.
Nepenthe is scheduled for an August 2013 release, eagerly anticipated by critics and fans alike, as well as by her friends at Asthmatic Kitty Records.