Boomkat Product Review:
Massive beams of choral light and and cavernous shoegaze-ambient introspection from sylph-like spirit Julianna Barwick. Her fourth solo LP in four years is riddled with more nuanced electronic dream-pop and peppered with notable input by Jónsi (Sigur Rós), Mary Lattimore and Nosaj Thing.
“A distinctive meditation on sound, reverb and the voice, “Healing Is A Miracle” is a record built on improvisation and a close affinity to a couple of trusted items of gear, from which she spins engrossing, expansive universes. Additionally, Barwick draws on the input of three collaborators with whom she has nurtured deep friendships with over the years: Jónsi (Sigur Rós), Nosaj Thing and Mary Lattimore; who each gently nudge out at the edges of her organically-evolved sound.
Recorded in the wake of a seismic shift in her life following a move from New York—where she had lived for 16 years—to Los Angeles where she is now based, the title of the record came to her after thinking about how the human body heals itself, of the miraculous processes we pay little attention to: “You cut your hand, it looks pretty bad, and two weeks later it looks like it never happened… That’s kind of amazing, you know?” It’s a sentiment that feels particularly apt for the moment. From there, she conceived of the record’s simple statement title, ran it past a couple of friends, and it was settled. Like with the record itself, and all of her work, it’s about following her gut, and seeing where it takes her.
“Healing Is A Miracle” began life in spring of last year, when Barwick sat down with her vocal looping set-up and began sketching out some ideas for new solo material. “It had been so long since I had done that,” she recalls, “making something for myself, just for the love of it… it was emotional, because I was recording music that was just from the heart, that wasn't for an 'assignment' or project… it brought me to tears a little”.
Part of the joy also came from a small but significant switch up to her recording process: the addition of some studio monitors—a birthday gift from Jónsi and Alex (Somers)—having previously recorded all of her music on headphones. “The first song I remember making with those was the first song on the album, Inspirit.” she explains, “When I added the bass I really felt it in my body, you know, in a way you just wouldn’t with headphones… it was kind of euphoric and fun. I got really excited about making the record in that moment, and I think that really had an impact on the sounds I ended up making.”