Julianna Barwick – The Magic Place Album Review

It’s really easy to get lost within The Magic Place, Julianna Barwick’s debut on Asthmatic Kitty. It’s full of cathedral-reverbed voices looped against one another, intertwining into lines that float into space and little else. Minimal, definitely. The vibe of the album is one that comes off partly as cinematic cloud formation and partly as most relaxing massage you’ve ever had. Think Panda Bear’s Young Prayer with more delay and a better voice; if Eno had Music For Airports, then Barwick’s newest is music for skygazing: beautiful, open, and ever expansive.

Listen to “The Magic Place” – DOWNLOAD MP3

The album’s main instrument is Barwick’s voice — one which she uses to great effect. Mostly wordless vocals make up the hymn-like songs. “Envelop,” the album’s opener, evokes an inner joy while the delayed guitar of “Bob In Your Gait” gives way to simple piano lines coupling with Elizabeth Frazer/Cocteau Twins-esque vocals. Songs don’t stand out on The Magic Place as much as they sway in and out of each other.

Barwick has noted that the titular “magic place” was a tree that “grew up, down, and around” the backyard of her Louisiana home. Throughout this album, Barwick’s songs grow the same way for the listener.

Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/she) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

In 2017, Vee released the narrative short film, Searching Skies — which touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States — and co-organized The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. 2022 sees the release of their next short film, Reckless Spirits, which is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature film.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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Written by Vee Hua 華婷婷
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