Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “One Half” by Julianna Barwick from the 2013 album Nepenthe on Dead Oceans.
Julianna Barwick’s ethereal, elliptical soundscapes are as emotionally moving as they are fascinatingly constructed. Born in Louisiana, Barwick first gained a penchant for singing in her local church. After discovering loop pedals, Barwick began composing songs based around recorded sections of her voice next to minimal piano melodies into swirling towers of song. After releasing her debut album The Magic Place in 2011, Barwick traveled to Iceland to record her second album, Nepenthe, with Alex Somers (Sigur Ros, Jonsi & Alex). “One Half” features some of Barwick’s clearest vocals in its bridge, but its the sweeping post rock-esque crescendos that make it such an alluring listen. Fading and sparse synths polish a vocal tidal wave that stops abruptly halfway through to make room for the aforementioned vocal line, and then “One Half” builds up into a consistent tension, letting Barwick’s vocals wash over herself as she lets the song fade.
Julianna Barwick is currently in the middle of a leg opening for Sigur Ros, after which she’ll head on to Europe. Keep up with her on her website and Facebook to hear about her next string of American tour dates, and watch the video for “One Half” below.