Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #89 - Julia Holter, "Ekstasis"

This has been trailed as her more poppy album after the creeping sounds of "Tragedy". On first listen, I'd agree: it's much more songy in structure.

"Boy in the Moon" seethes with idiosyncratic magic, an agile balance between angelic bubbling electronic chords and creamy, claustrophobic string sounds. "This plane is taking/Off," she breathes as the music moves into an ambient, exploratory tone, starlight lapping on its bow.

"Fur Felix" (please excuse my missing umlaut) begins as parlour Goth before there's a neat baroque turn and then a brace of fog horn versions of increasingly slack guitars. I like to think that this slackening is a destruction of their power. Though I'm not sure to what end. "Goddess Eyes II" is a return to a tune/theme of the last album: but once more a full cream version with a clean version of her voice atop a Laurie Anderson vocoder ghost. A relentless build of sheet over sheet of musical ideas. "I can see you by my eyes are not/Allowed to cry".

"Moni Mon Amie" moves nice and slow, also building up a powerful momentum through the arrival of more and more lines of keyboard, bass pulses, tinkling notes, muttered whispers and triumphal singing. Some ekstasis here I imagine. "Four Gardens" develops into an Indian flavour with sitar-like notes being bent over the drone. Even wedges some loose sax playing at the end.

The closer "This is Ekstatis" sounds as though she has been up all night painting and mixing in a cement mixer to produce the right sound. It's certainly a cooler, more dubby idea of ecstasy than I'd think of myself. Breathy pants and jazzy saxophone fingering. It's effectively in two big sections - as cellos get involved and space to breathe opens up. Then it stops.

All in all, not as arrestingly strange in parts as "Tragedy"; but still capable of stimulating the eccentricity gland without too much effort.

Rating: LA Pop out of The Bedroom

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