Julianna Barwick's revelatory third full-length, Will, is the Brooklyn experimental artist's most surprising left turn to date. Conceived and self-produced over the past year in a variety of locations, the electric Will departs from the weighty lightness of 2013's Nepenthe. If Nepenthe conjured images of gentle fog rolling over desolate mountains, then Will is a late afternoon thunderstorm, a cathartic collision of sharp and soft textures that sounds ominous and restorative all at once.
Will comes off of Barwick's busiest period in her career to date following Nepenthe - a spate of activity that included playing piano for Yoko Ono, performing at the 25th annual Tibet House Benefit Concert alongside such kindred spirits as the Flaming Lips and Philip Glass, the Rosabi EP and an extensive touring schedule that included her first-ever shows in Japan.
Her life over the past several years has largely been lived in transit, and as such the genesis of Will was not beholden to location; Barwick reflects on this cycle of constant motion. "You're constantly adjusting, assimilating, and finding yourself in life-changing situations."
That sense of forward propulsion is largely owed to what Barwick describes as Will's "synthy flava," an ingredient she was inspired to add to her vocal loop-heavy formula after demoing equipment for synth maker Moog. Another new wrinkle Will introduces in Barwick's sound: Mas Ysa's Thomas Arsenault, who lends his richly complex vocals to "Same" and "Someway." The beguiling, beautifully complicated Will is the latest proof yet of Barwick's irresistibly engaging talent.