Julianna Barwick - Nepenthe
Critic Score
Based on 22 reviews
2013 Ratings: #55 / 1057
User Score
Based on 175 ratings
2013 Ratings: #30
Liked by 3 people
August 20, 2013 / Release Date
LP / Format
Dead Oceans / Label
Ambient / Genres
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Drowned in Sound

This is the exquisite album we were promised, and perhaps an important one.


While it may be a tremendously personal album for Barwick, you can get lost in Nepenthe for not only its sheer beauty, but for its ability to evoke visual cues and tell stories with its music.

The Line of Best Fit

The cohesion of the overall experience is intrinsic to its arresting impact and over the course of these ten modest tracks Nepenthe makes the world seem a much more serene and beautiful place.


It's not only her biggest and most ambitious production to date, but also the album that best showcases her gift for communicating complex emotional entanglements so simply and clearly they become almost weightless.

Beats Per Minute

Even though wordless for the most part, Nepenthe creates a sense of heaviness and despair; while The Magic Place was definitely best suited to soundtracking the sunrise of dewy summer morning, Nepenthe is contrastingly an album for dusk, when the light is fading and the landscapes go silent.


You sense feelings of longing and unease all over Nepenthe, which makes it a less blissful place to spend time than her previous album. But that also makes it a much more cathartic listen, and perhaps a more rewarding one.

No Ripcord

Nepenthe takes her sound its next logical step forward by filling out her music with a wider range of acoustic instruments that underpin the sonority of her vocals, with the help of sometime Sigur Rós affiliate Alex Somers


It may seem strange to get so excited about a record of vocal loops, but Barwick continually proves that truism that art isn't about elements but what you make of them - and this latest album is simply sublime.


Barwick takes time coming into focus; her actions sound remote, at first, quieter and less fulfilled, but it’s the kind of album that creeps up to you, asks for your hand and takes you to a different place entirely.

FACT Magazine

Nepenthe is more ambitious than its predecessors, more varied in style and execution and sonically richer. It’s also, perhaps, harder to hear Barwick in there, among the full-bodied arrangements and pristine production.

Under The Radar

Depending on your tastes, Nepenthe either marks Barwick's progression to a higher, more emotionally powerful and resonant place, or she's managed the musical equivalent of Instagramming her album. 

The dream of forgetfulness, I first listened to this record when I went to Germany with my best friend, who suffered/suffers from insomnia. This record did, what sleeping pills couldn't even when clutched in the hands of a german summer, which hangs heavy with humility & a sun that stayed up well into the night.

"One Half" has always been my favorite from this record and from Juliana, at that time with a developing opinion on music, I think I still needed lyrical accompaniment ... read more
Julianna Barwick's Nepenthe is stunning. It is an album that seems interested in beauty's potential to alleviate depression. Barwick's compositions are sparse and icy, slowly building into an emotional avalanche that is unbridled by anxiety or fear. These songs overwhelm the senses. They invite the listener to look inward, to lose yourself in a beautiful wave of ambient bliss.

There are a few moments on this album that are absolutely breathtaking. A perfect example of this for me is in the ... read more
Νηπενθές = Nepenthe
Αncient Greek name of a medicine capable of erasing depression. You just need to listen to Nepenthe, to discover the truth of it all.
An album which feels like being serenaded by an angelic choir of whales. Julianna Barwick shows the power that vocals can have and explores the dynamic acoustics of them in extreme depth on Nepenthe (Hey, depth, Nepenthe, those kind of rhyme! No? Ok I'll let myself out).
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Track List

  1. Offing
  2. The Harbinger
  3. One Half
  4. Look Into Your Own Mind
  5. Pyrrhic
  6. Labyrinthine
  7. Forever
  8. Adventurer of the Family
  9. Crystal Lake
  10. Waving To You
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Added on: May 15, 2013