Julia Holter, Ekstasis
An impressive mix of moods pulling from the past and present
Julia Holter makes music for an ever-changing carnival of the mind. One moment she’s cooing dreamily, like a woman lost in the clouds of her own imagining, and the next she’s thinking her way through incisive lyrics about the cerebral ’60s art-film Last Year at Marienbad. Some of her sounds come across as childlike and lost, others are clearly and thoroughly composed. She demonstrates incredible range, often in the space of a single time-defying song. It makes for an impressive mix of moods, one that Holter first revealed on Tragedy, her striking debut from late 2010 that wowed most of those who heard it. Just a few months later comes Ekstasis, another album made up of its own distinctive charms. “Marienbad” opens in a stately fashion, striking out into in an expectant expanse between the Beach Boys at their most elegant and the smeary psychedelic surplus of bands like Broadcast. Somehow, even as it invokes allusions to styles from distant pasts, Ekstasis sounds contemporary and new. Parts played on what sounds like lutes and harpsichords mingle with ethereal electronics, and Holter’s affecting voice – small but resourceful in the way it wanders – makes for a sense of immediacy that rewards full attention in the here and now.