mon 24/06/2024

Album: Julia Holter - Something in the Room She Moves | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Julia Holter - Something in the Room She Moves

Album: Julia Holter - Something in the Room She Moves

An adventure in dreams

Cover by Christina QuarlesChristina Quarles

Julia Holter has created a long line of albums that trade on sophisticated poetry, both lyrical and musical, and her latest, perhaps the most adventurous of all, inhabits a world where nothing is certain, narratives are disjointed, and the imagination of the listener is left to run free.

Los Angeles, so grounded in showbiz commerce, is also the city of angels, and the place where dreams can be transformed into reality. Perhaps not surprising that the city should often produce music – from the warm embrace of dream pop to the edgy experimentalism of avant-garde experiment – that has the magic and poetry of the visions that came to us half-awake or asleep.

Holter has produced and composed all the material – with help from her engineer Kenny Gilmore – and her distinctive signature is present throughout a mostly varied album. Layers of sound – the touching humanity of a clarinet (Chris Speed) and a flute (Maia aka Sonjia Denise Hubert Harper) are juxtaposed with keyboard and synths and underpinned by fluid fretless bass from Jaco Pastorius soundalike Devin Hoff. These are not classic songs, with a predictable structure, but short suites, often laden with atmospheric and cinematic reverb,  in which anything might happen – changes of style, texture, tempo and pulse – with a sufficient share of repeated riffs, vocal and instrumental that prevent this very experimental and adventurous album from becoming forbidding or difficult. Holter has always managed – not unlike Björk, though in another register – to make very inventive music accessible, never shy of seducing her audience, and yet true to her avant-garde muse.

“Meyou” stands out, perhaps the most daring piece, with Julia joined on wayward yet captivating vocals, by some of the best practicioners of cliff-edge vocalising, Nite Jewel’s Ramona Gonzalez, Jessika Kenney, Maia, and Mia Doi Todd.  While there is an appealing innocence to Holter’s work – not least in her singing – she's no intellectual slouch, drawing on influences such as the French post-structuralist Hélène Cixous – notably on the album’s most ambitious track “Spinning”, as well as subtly referencing Robert Wyatt’s classic love lyric, “Sea Song” – distinguished by the transformation of our loved ones into animals and the body’s relationship with water, the night, and the sun.

Transformation is essential to this album: sounds morphing into each other, words that connect in a non-linear but flowing way. She takes us on a journey, her adventure, and it is difficult not to be enchanted by this skilled and deeply felt evocation of her inner world and her creative process. An album to discover slowly and savour through repeated acquaintance, over weeks and months.

Holter has always managed to make very inventive music accessible


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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