Julia Holter’s epic and grandiose release Tragedy is quite the modern-day home recording marvel with it’s lush and charismatic eeriness. Her music is clearly originally composed and can be considered a full honest representation of her art-form. Where many musicians in today’s industry clumsily throw together as many sounds as possible in order to perceived as “artistic” or try to instill a fake fascade of avant-garde hype, Julia Holter’s focus and compositions are bold and interesting to musicians and listeners alike. Her music is genuinely and utterly her very own and her creative personality shines through on many tracks on Tragedy.
Being a fan of home recording and it’s endless possibilities, Julia Holter can hold her own as a performer live on stage at a big venue or even in the bedroom with her friends. She has taken a precedence on the importance of playing live as well as recording alone in her recent interview for Pitchfork. Clearly, she makes music for her own reasons and on her own terms, which makes the indie and home recording scene in Los Angeles respect her and has rightfully increased her palette of work by working with Ariel Pink.
Tragedy opens with sound of a barge’s horn slowly approaching your ears as if your ears are being led to a dimly lit harbor at night. As the horns approach, there’s snippets of orchestral led opera being suppressed by the swell of cellos and woodwinds. Much like Lars Von Trier’s Europa, you have the sense of impending doom, but you are completely comfortable with the inevitability of the situation.
The second track Try to Make Yourself a Piece of Art is a pretty good representation of the rest of the album with it’s slow and crooning vocal routine. You will soon hear the strokes of a bass and the spoken words of Julia Holter. The clangs and bangs of bells accompany the bass drum in a 4/4 steady rhythm that will crescendo into an avalanche of distant organs in a long hallway. It is during these first few minutes that I can’t help, but to focus on the sound design that Julia has created. At this point, her voice becomes very addicting and has the feeling of tip-toeing tension.
Goddess Eyes starts with mechanical voice singing a phrase in a heavy 8-bit modulation. This song takes a few seconds to build, but while Julia Holter makes her layers of sound work together gradually and seamlessly, it does signal her vocal pop prowess. It’s a graceful rising song that might just be too short, but definitely transitions well into the next song Interlude. Much like an interlude to a Alan Resnais film, the song sounds as grand and expansive as a opera hall or cathedral.
Celebration features the low rumble of bass from her own field recordings. Rising above a plethora of organic and natural sounding synthesizers, Julia’s voice rides along a minimalistic styled drum beat. This is the longest track found on the album at over 9 minutes.
Tragedy is a superbly well-done album that keep me interested with Julia’s use of sound design and home recording excellence. I will be looking out for her latest release in the upcoming weeks.
Julia Holter will be dropping a new full length on March 8th entitled Eckstasis on RVNGintl. Here is the newest songs from her latest full length. In the Same Room displays more focus and probably more conventions of pop sensibilities than songs featured in Tragedy. This song marks a leap into dream-pop realm where intimate couples may lay next to each other in perfect harmony and hearts beating in unison.