The Louisiana-born musician’s ambient fourth album is a ravishing affair
The aural equivalent of a Mark Rothko painting, the work of Louisiana-born, Brooklyn-based Julianna Barwick loops her voice in layers of soft, radiant texture to build an effect of sacred-feeling simplicity. Her fourth album is inspired by a return to instinct. If it feels less ambitious than its predecessor, 2016’s Will – which explored acoustic settings from a Moog factory to a motorway underpass – it’s also more ravishingly beatific.
Inspirit ripples a reverbed melody over a bass synth that thrums like an interplanetary pipe organ, while the wordless keening of Wishing Well waxes and wanes like a lighthouse beam in fog. Hints of shadow keep Barwick’s bliss from becoming one-dimensional: pulses of vocal fire out like radar blips into a darker, emptier space in Flowers, while the album’s title track has the feel of a gothic afterworld, This Mortal Coil finally shuffled off.