Julianna Barwick finds unity in division in the first video from third album Nepenthe, due out August 20 via Dead Oceans. “One Half,” which premiered earlier this week on NPR, already sonically builds two distinct sections into a gorgeously enthralling whole, as a dewy opening built around muffled vocal loops gives way at the midpoint to newfound clarity — no doubt aided by producer Alex Somers, who has worked with Sigur Rós and recorded the album with Barwick in Iceland.
Directed by Zia Anger (Jenny Hval, Angel Olsen, Water Liars), the video achieves a similar effect visually. The first half of the video shows Barwick, her eyes mostly closed, in what appears to be a parking garage. Then she’s in a verdant, ethereal place, sunlight flaring off the camera as she lifts a blade toward an impossibly flowery confection. Before it’s over, the two Barwicks meet.
“I guess I was asleep that night,” Barwick’s soft voice repeats, in keeping with her own work but also fellow ambient-pop explorers such as A Sunny Day in Glasgow. She’s awake now, but we might still be dreaming.