Julia Holter – Ekstasis

      It’s like Julia Holter and I are repelling magnets; we have been moving in the exact opposite directions. In 2011, she likely released one of the most important albums of last year: Tragedy. I wouldn’t know, because I never was able to listen to it. When I tried it with my friends once, we all just got a little bit foghorned out. That’s why I was excited to hear that her next album, Ekstasis was to be much more accessible. Oh, how it was! It had all the alluring elements I had picked up on in her earlier work without the experimentation that I wasn’t able to handle. But as 2012 progressed I found that I was becoming increasingly bored with what was accessible. “Where are all the foghorns!?!” I would ask when my friends played me the latest A$ap Rocky track. And so it seemed that Julia Holter might always be oppositely polarized. But once I really started paying attention to the intricacies of Ekstasis, I noticed that this was not your average pop record at all. For example, I’ve yet to hear Justin Bieber form a dissonance like the one halfway through “Marienbad.” On the next song, “Our Sorrows,” the listener watches as a delightful pop song is slowly deconstructed until it transforms into a strung out drone. Though conversation is used in pop hits like “Somebody I Used to Know,” the voices are not usually allowed to pour over into one another as they do on “In the Same Room.” I eventually came to understand that Ekstasis and Tragedy were written about the same time. I realized that Holter and I are not opposites; we both have attractions to accessibility and experimentalism coexisting within us, always. In fact, pure experimentation without any (pop)ular value to it will never be as much of an important movement. The most progressive influences in music always have to apply liberal amounts of both, so that radical shifts can be made more palatable. This is exactly what Ekstasis does.