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Julia Holter


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Ethereal beautiful & fierce, evocative experimental alternative pop

Status:

Most recent release, Have You in My Wilderness (2015)

See also:

Julia Holter's site

Wikipedia's entry on Julie Holter

Comparisons:

She's not really like anyone (she's sui generis and someone I would be counting as a goddess if we still did such things as counting musical goddesses, but there are touches of Virginia Astley, Stina Nordenstam, (though Holter is definitely more lively), perhaps Laurie Anderson's songs. She certainly has a similar musical and intellectual curiousity to Laurie Anderson. I don't see the My Brightest Diamond connection, but then, I'm not a fan of that artist so don't take my word for it. (Neile)

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

I only know about her what I found in allmusic: California born and bred, from a musical family, and graduated from CalArts having studied electronic music. She likes playing around with deeply cerebral themes (most recently ancient Greeks). (valrichardson@igc.org)

Julia Holter has this magical ability to make music that could be (from her classical and literary and experimental sources and eclectic instrumentation and composition) difficult listening hour and making it gorgeous, melodic, and immediately captivating. Despite the instrumentations and obvious intelligence there's something essential and stripped-down about her. I think she and her music are brilliant. Certainly the most exciting musical discovery I've come across in years. (Neile)

Comments about live performance:

Just came back from seeing Julia Holter perform in Brooklyn. Wow! Thanks to all for talking her up.
     Lineup: Julia on keyboard and vocal, Danny Meyer on sax, Cory Fogel on drums and backing vocal, Chris Vosek on cello, and Andrew Tholl on violin.
     It reminded me of Shara Worden's (My Brightest Diamond) musical universe, minus the flamboyant stage performance. The music is meticulously crafted. (At one point, when the strings needed to stop to tune, she remarked, "Sometimes the air does things to the instruments. Then we have a micro-tonal performance.") Julia's voice is strong and her style is distinctive.
     Toward the end of the performance they reached a cacophonous crescendo, with the strings sawing away as hard as they could, and as much feedback, distortion, and piercing sounds as any headbanger could want. But generally the tone was a lot more mellow.
     After the show everyone ahead of me in line was buying vinyl—at least three albums that I saw. I think Julia probably appeals to audiophiles. (9/13, psfblair@ix.netcom.com)

I saw her last weekend here in Chicago, so good. I think what I love best abt her work is that altho is has that hushed and mellow quality, it is as you describe always juxtaposed with a lot of more aggressive and climactic moments, it's… I honestly had no idea how she was going to play songs from Loud City Song out of context/order because to me that album is such a coherent song cycle, but it worked. Everyone in my life that I share her with, including the friend I brought on Saturday, keeps accusing it of being stoner music, and I'm like STOP, how could you play with that much precision stoned. (9/13, timjy@sbcglobal.net)

Recommended first album:

They're all good, but Have You in My Wilderness is her most popular album to date

Recordings:


Ekstasis

Release info:

2012—IGET RVNG—RVUNGNL14

Availability:

Wide in U.S.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Julia Holter—instruments, vocals

Guest artists:

Corey Granet—guitar (1)
Catherine Lamb—viola (4)
Max Kaplan—clarinet, bass clarinet (8)
Casey Anderson—alto saxophone (10)
Kenny Gilmore—electric bass (10)

Produced by:

Julia Holter

Comments:

I loved this album from the start, but it took a while before I found it truly compelling. It's definitely one of those albums that gets better and better with each listen. It's complex and gorgeous with lovely evocative instrumentation and vocals and enough of a touch of experimentation to make it truly unique. A stunner. (Neile)

Loud City Song

Release info:

2013—Domino Recording—WIG306CD

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Julia Holter—keyboards, vocals

Guest artists:

Brian Allen—trombone
Matt Barbier—trombone
Corey Fogel—percussion
Ramona Gonzalez—background vocals
Devin Hoff—double bass, fretless bass
Chris Speed—saxophone
Andrew Tholl—violin
Christopher Votek—cello

Produced by:

Cole Marsden Greif Neill and Julia Holter

Comments:

One of the best albums of the year. (timjy@sbcglobal.net, stjarnell@yahoo.com, valrichardson@igc.org)

The first introductory track doesn't do that much for me, but immediately after that this album comes to vivid life for me. It's a gorgeous, impressionistic cycle of songs about the city, and a marvelous follow-up to the lovely Ekstasis. Wonderfully constructed, captivating, and intelligent. There's a surprising sense of completion by the end. One of the best albums of the year. (Neile)

Julia Holter's Loud City Song is in with a real chance, the musical equivalent—for me—of a muzzy, nagging migraine. To be fair, it was a late addition to my collection and I've only managed to listen to it five or six times, but the last time was following along with the lyrics, which made the experience even more painful. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)


Have You in My Wilderness

Release info:

2015—Domino Recording—WIGCD341

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Julia Holter

Guest artists:

Corey Fogel—percussion
Kenny Gilmore—percussion
Devin Hoff—bass
Danny Meyer—saxophone, clarinet
Chris Speed—saxophone
Andrew Tholl—violin
Christopher Votek—cello

Produced by:

Cole MGN and Julia Holter

Comments:

What a brilliant album. It's a knock-out: impressionistic, intelligent, full of lovely moments, and utterly gorgeous throughout. It was my favourite album of the year and to my surprise that of many critics as well, including Mojo magazine. (Neile)

One of the best albums of the year. (timjy@sbcglobal.net, jonwesleyhuff@gmail.com, christina_skov@hotmail.com, mixplusik@gmail.com)


Further info:

Compilation work includes:

  • "In the Same Room" on Transmissions: The Echoes Living Room Concerts, Volume 19 (2013)
  • "You & Me Both (Arthur Russell live tribute)" on Stones Throw and Leaving Records Present: Dual Form (2013)
  • "My Love, My Love" on Remembering Mountains: Unheard Songs of Karen Dalton (2015)
Collaborations include:

  • "Ballerina's Reprise" with Emily Haynie and Father John Misty on Haynie's album We Fall (2015)
  • "My Flowers Grow Green" with Darryl Holter on his album Radio Songs (2015)


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2016-04-03 19:25:43.
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