Over there sits Julianna Barwick’s The Magic Place, an album that radiated dreaminess, seemingly endless loops of her angelic vocals towering over an idyllic landscape. Over there sits Roberto Carlos Lange, who records under the name Helado Negro, produces Latin-tinged psych-folk like the sublime Canta Lechuza. Here now, Lange and Barwick decided to record under the name OMBRE, a name fitting for either its meaning as a hair-dying technique (dark at the roots, lightening at the ends, echoing the melding unification) or as an outdated card game (complicated and richly sepia). Rather than compounding the celestial sleepiness of the two artists, winding up in an infinitely blurred dreamland, the collaborative Believe You Me is a complex interplay where each artist’s voice stands out, yet fits in.
Lange’s lithe psychedelia and Barwick’s pastoral ambience often find their unexpected match in the other’s element on the album. Listening back to Barwick, who’d have known that she would be the perfect backing vocalist for a steamy strummer like “Weight Those Words”? Or that ripples of electronic percussion could push Barwick into Zola Jesus territory so easily and with such shimmering results as “Cara Falsa”? These two didn’t even seem to know, as Lange apparently reached out to Barwick through the internet long ago, the two working on these tracks for nearly two years. But to wind up with tracks like “Sense” – a choppy, manipulated wonderland where the duo match the glory of The Magic Place – a song that rings so perfectly for one half of the collaboration, shows their complete synchronicity.
There are moments at which the album relaxes too much, finding itself dangerously near the line of New Age spa music, but these are certainly the minority. The more structured tracks take shape in the slippery bleariness. The limber, insistent “Tormentas” is one of few tracks where the duo sing in straight harmony throughout, with a slouchy saxophone, fingerpicked guitar, and ratcheting bass laying a bed for the two voices to float over. The stars of the track, though, are the tubular bell-like warbles that trill out at intervals to remind that we’re still in a Barwick-y other-world. Dream pop may be a genre du jour, but few produce material quite so dreamy as Believe You Me.
Essential Tracks: “Sense”, “Tormentas”