Concert preview: Julianna Barwick makes music to get lost in

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From the April 17, 2014 edition

“Labyrinthine,” the standout track on Brooklyn singer/songwriter Julianna Barwick’s 2013 album Nepenthe, doubles as an apt description of her enveloping, maze-like sound, which tends to be ethereal and mysterious, awash in angelic tones and radiant alien textures.

Album opener “Offing,” for one, mimics the feel of gliding through a grand, stone cathedral, sunlight refracting through impressive stained-glass windows, while the ambient “Pyrrhic” comes on like the kind of music “Lord of the Rings’” Lady of the Wood (you know, the luminous elf portrayed by Cate Blanchett in the films) might bump at a chilled-out dinner party. In concert this otherworldly sensation is heightened, with Barwick utilizing synthesizers and vocal loops to craft dense, patchwork compositions that are all too easy to get lost in. It’s to her credit that rarely does one feel rushed to locate an exit.

Vasillus opens the show.

Julianna Barwick photo