Thursday, 9 February 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #54 - Julia Holter, "Tragedy"

This was Boomkat's #1 album of 2011, a response to Euripedes' "Hippolyta" (a warning against overzealous chastity and the vengeance of repressed sexual love) and quite a spooky affair.

I don't know much about Greek tragedies; but this is packed with atmosphere - in fact, atmospheres; like the mulitples of air pressure. There's a hefty feeling of David Lynch ("The Falling Age" in particular) and of Hitchcock - the theatrical double bass and fog horn of the "Introduction" give way to an eerie hummed vocal, presumably Holter herself.

"Try To Make Yourself a Work of Art" struts delicately like a Japanese opera. There's tape hiss too and a wheeling, ecclesiastical voice that has been trapped in a cathedral deep under the sea. Holter is from Los Angeles - Val Verde, more specifically - but there is a lush, yet ghostly quality to this music. Motley Crue it amn't.


"Goddess Eyes" has a crunchy, antique feel with the Talkbox vocals. "Celebration" takes on the appearance of pop trying to fashion itself with new fingers, but is a piece of classical composition at its core, including a woodwind freak out. And the pitched down sound of a combustion engine heading somewhere. Into the next track, "Lillies", in fact, which is full of chatter and birdsong and some Eurpidean text thrown in. Concrete music business with discrete pieces looming into focus and then back into the rear view.

The "Tragedy Finale" begins with some icily-creepy, dissonant organ sound - like Les Dawson guest starring in "The Birds". Choirs float in, only to be met with more woodwind, muttered male voices in fractured Anglo-French translations and doughty piano. It's a wintry album; suspended animation and big, black smudged noises in the corner of the woods. With the occasional baroque passage echoing in some cathedral out in the jungle on an ice-floe.

This feels different, a blend of composition, concrete music and whatever else seems to fit. The Greek theme continues with "Ektasis" next month, out for which I will be keeping an eye. And/or an ear.

Rating: Tragedy out of Cathedrals

No comments: