Here’s a few facts about the Californian musician Julia Holter: she’s an avant-garde pop maker; she’s inspired by some high brow literature, taking influence from Greek playwrights; and she hangs with the likes of Nite Jewel. It might also be worth mentioning that this, her sophomore record, is probably going to be one of the most inspiring, inventive and other-worldly listens of 2012. In fact, I can’t stop listening to this home-recorded masterpiece.
These are songs that aren’t really songs (in the sense they wander where they want), changing direction, stepping out from their structure and finding their own way home. It starts with Marienbed, a track that quietly sets the tone as it gently waltzes on a sea of choral ambience. The light, instrumental footwork allows Holter to vocally hop and skip, slowly building momentum only to fall into an abyss of reverb, rising again only on a different path.
Instrumentally there are drum machines and synths – all are put down with a warm transparency, so the voice can lead the way. Moments like Boy in the Moon allow the record to widen its vision further, taking on an almost drone-induced backing, synths reaching far beyond the horizon as Holter’s voice becomes a haunting presence.
Goddess Eyes is led with a slight electro rhythm – Holter sways in the music’s soft surroundings. Hints of a vocoder and the jolted beat turns the organic into the robotic, yet maintains the weightlessness the records naturally embraces.
You can imagine Laurie Anderson being the godmother to Holter’s aspiring new sounds – guiding her spiritually – both are clearly free from the normal restraints pop music pushes. Holter is a more than a worthy continuation of the imaginative, precocious and brilliant music Anderson is infamous for – and that is no exaggeration.