River of Forgetfulness


A celestial choir has descended on my Brooklyn apartment. I hear it echoing through the cracks in the ceiling and bouncing off the hardwood floor.

On closer inspection, I find this heavenly sound turns out to be coming from my very own wireless speakers, courtesy of Julianna Barwick

Her new album ‘Nepenthe’ is named after the ancient drug of forgetfulness and just one listen does make you want to leave behind your worries and woes, while swooning on the couch.

I’ve heard it rather cruelly described as Enya for Brooklyn-ites but for me it has the quiet majesty of the better work of Sigur Ros.


The album with it’s simply repeated refrains and loops is rumored to have been inspired by a death in the family and perhaps this would explain not just the ethereal beauty but also the strange solace the album provides the listener.

On a personal level the album made me recall a road trip I made to Big Sur. I stopped off at a restaurant that by a strange coincidence shared the name of this album, ‘Nepenthe’.

It overlooked the staggeringly beautiful coastline and as I stared out over the shimmering sea a bird of prey hovered in the air, feathers ruffled by a breeze that stirred the leaf-heavy trees.

Out on the water a distant boat cut through the waves with an escort of dolphins that leapt from the surface in an arc.

The soundtrack to this moment had not yet been invented but if I’d viewed the scene again today I would have had this albums harmonies reverberating around my head.

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