Video: Juliana Barwick's "The Harbinger"
Curiously, the album version alwaysalwaysreminds me of the opening chorus to The Rolling Stones’ 1969 hit, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Here, though, whatever hint of triumphant rock’n’roll that may exist in “The Harbinger” is replaced by the impressionistic strokes of cold, windblown colors and sheer textures. We hear the crunch of gravel beneath footsteps, the lapping of waves, sniffles, the chimes of an iPhoneall of these elements are captured, looped, and folded into the piece.
The video was filmed by Derrick Belcham for La Blogotheque’s excellent “Take Away Show.” From the press release:
Belcham says, “Iceland is a broad and magical island with ample space to allow a sound or a perspective to expand and be enriched by the landscapes and its welcoming people. For a few months in 2012, Julianna and I had the privilege to do just that.”
Barwick was recording Nepenthe with Sigur Rós collaborator and producer Alex Somers, and Belcham was documenting the experience when they heard about the lake where the video was filmed. With guidance from Somers“Drive towards this park...pass all the huge fields of moss and the pony farms. You’ll see a series of mountains in the distance and the coast to your side. I guess these are terrible directions that could lead you anywhere in Iceland.”Belcham and Barwick sought it out. Barwick describes it as “something out of a fairytale. Derrick and I drove deep into Þingvellir National Park. We were alone for a really long time before we finally came upon the lake. The water was iridescent blue-turquoise, surrounded by snow-capped mountains. We set up and filmed quickly as it was absolutely freezing!”
Some will question Barwick’s use of an iPhone. Why disturb the natural setting with a high-tech device commonly associated with urban living?
Why not? It seems to me that a large bit of Nepenthe’s soul is found in the merging of perspectives, styles, places, and forms. Barwick traveled to Iceland with the specific intent to write and record an album. There was little doubt that the album would be influenced by the unfamiliar environment, but also little doubt that Barwick would bring with her a bit of home.
Nepenthe, Julianna Barwick’s third full-length album, was released on August 20th, by Dead Oceans, and met by a lovely piece in The New York Times. Barwick will perform live, tonight, at BasilicaSoundScape in Hudson, NY. From there, she hits the road for a month-long North American tour with the mighty Sigor Ros. For a complete list of tour dates, visit Julianna Barwick's official website.