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Julia Holter : Ekstatis

Ekstatis is one of those albums that sounds more like it was recorded in outer space than someone’s bedroom. Holter has been crafting her sound over the past four years, culminating in last year’s debut album Tragedy, but on Ekstatis she has truly found her voice.

 

In The Same Room is the first cut to catch your attention: a weirdly poppy mash-up of music box delicacy and '80s arcade game buzzing with conversing vocals layered over it, but this is soon overtaken by other less immediate cuts that are slower to reveal their pleasures. Picking out the gems amongst the album’s complex tapestry is a joy, my current favourite being the slow motion mushroom-cloud of Boy In The Moon, a blissful eight-and-a-half minutes of edgy ambience in the style of Laurie Anderson.

 

There’s an unsettling friction between classical and unconventional sounds throughout that gives Ekstatis a feel all of its own. It’s predominately head music, so it’s a nice surprise when some heart is applied and the real Julia shines through. The Goddess Eyes songs hit a personal note with the lyric, "I can see you but my eyes are not allowed to cry"; emotive even when sung through icy-cold vocoder. The album slips at the last hurdle, with the blurting horns and aimless ‘la, la, la’ vocals of the last few minutes of This Is Ekstatis marking the point where the novelty has finally worn off – it’s a minor blip on an otherwise thrilling radar.

 

BY CHRIS GIRDLER

 

Best Track Title: Boy In The Moon

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In A Word: Otherworldly