Julianna Barwick: Healing Is a Miracle review – balm for the soul

(Ninja Tune)
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 Willwhich 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.

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