Julia Holter – Ekstatsis

Like a child of privilege in the nursery, confronted with a whole pile of exotic things to dress up in, only to create a set of curious costumes based on the fact that there’s just too much to pick, this record trips around in a state of undress.

 

http://igetrvng.com http://www.konkurrent.nl

 

Listening to this LP is akin to walking through a fog. Every now and then you get some clarity on your position, a signpost or a clear shaft of light to guide you. However you can get dreadfully lost and confused. That I’ve carried on giving it a chance is mainly because there are moments of absolute brilliance here, and Julia Holter has a deserved reputation as a fine and knowledgeable artist. But this sounds like a work that has been created with certain elements that are as yet ill-defined, (or over defined) certainly not fully digested in the whole: it feels incredibly unsure of its bearings and ultimately sounds like a masquerade of sorts.

Still, this is a strange record, and I like strange records. Over time they do nag at you to return to them. And this is further out than most of the dreamy imaginings (and there have been a slew of this sort of release over the past 2 years or so, enough to sate anybody’s appetite), and therefore oddly compelling. I must warn you that, if you’ve not heard Holter’s work before and you can’t abide dreamy, intellectual female rock in the manner of Kate Bush, Enya or The Cocteau Twins then you’d better move on sharpish. If you do, this is a record that will interest and frustrate, as there are moments of wonder visible through the mist, the opening track Marienbad hints at a brilliant symphony – Good Vibrations-style that is just within reach had more rock and roll rigour been applied - and the cheeky, pixie-like Für Felix and Moni Mon Amie suggests a considerable vision: Le grande Meaulnes or The Book of Hours made C21st pop.

But then there’s the structure. At times during Boy in the Moon or In the Same Room (inexplicably, given their abstract nature, sitting next to each other on the CD running order) you can end up thoroughly lost in a mist of harmonics and soft, downy sound effects. This LP has potential (should anyone wish to experiment) with becoming the pot-head record du jour…. Like a child of privilege in the nursery, confronted with a whole pile of exotic things to dress up in, only to create a set of curious costumes based on the fact that there’s just too much to pick, this record trips around in a state of undress.

Shame. But give it a spin.