#10 Julianna Barwick - The Magic Place
Juliana Barwick's ambient album The Magic Place is extremely simple in ways. I read an interview where she explained that the album's title is associated with a tree she remembers from her childhood - the sort of tree that twists towards the ground, creating the effect of secret spaces and rooms beneath its canopy. I can think of certain places like that from my own childhood (anywhere out of doors that holds off the rain can seem magical to a child), sacred spaces that are made to appear even more sacred by the ocean of time from which we view them across. When I look at this album's cover, when I think about its simple song titles that read like a poetic tableau of painterly images drawn from memory's earliest and most archetypal box of treasures ('cloak', 'white flag'), and when I listen to its gentle and mostly wordless music, I wonder if Barwick has created an album of prayers.
The music itself is very hymnal. Those loops of Barwick's voice that trace themselves in slow circles of varying diameters (at varying heights) sound like the wordless expressions of a mind engaging with the infinite and the sacred. This aspect of The Magic Place is illustrated by a comment under the youtube video for one of the songs which reads "I love this music even though I'm an atheist". In fact, the youtube comments under her songs are very revealing (funny as well) and reading them can be like stepping into a clandestine meeting of a cult where everyone is sharing saucer-eyed epiphanies - stuff like "does any1 else feel like life is so simple but we make it so complicate" and "now I know what human souls sound like" and, best of all, the single word "amen" getting twenty up-votes.
The Magic Place, then, is a series of secular hymns sculpted from loops. The songs are as cool and pale as delft, or marble, or the moon on still water, or... choose your own simile. They are as simple and as beautiful as that.
MP3: Julianna Barwick-Envelop