Fleeting thoughts on Julia Holter songs (1)

“My heart is loud,” Julia Holter sings on her sixth album Something in the Room She Moves, following an inner pulse. The Los Angeles songwriter’s past work has often explored memory and dreamlike future, but her latest album resides more in presence: “There’s a corporeal focus, inspired by the complexity and transformability of our bodies,” Holter says. Her production choices and arrangements form a continuum of fretless electric bass pitches in counterpoint with gliding vocal melodies, while glissing Yamaha CS-60 lines entwine warm winds and reeds. “I was trying to create a world that’s fluid-sounding, waterlike, evoking the body’s internal sound world,” Holter says of her flowing harmonic universe. 

Sun Girl

Michael: „Sun Girl“ appears like a dreamscape at a beach. There’s a thin line between song and texture, the words ethereal. The mood nearly on the brink of falling apart, then it flows again, in short rhytmic bubbles, aJoao Gilberto bossa lightness. But no bossa. Apparitions all over the place, foreground turning background and vice versa.

Olaf: This sounds like Musique Concrete with instruments instead of sounds / field recordings. Not a song, but a walk through a jungle, across a river using the bass line as stepping stones. Change is constant, everything is in flux, sunlight through spray and haze. The weightlessness of it all, pop apparitions.

These Morning

Olaf: After the misty swirl of „Sun“ a moment of calmness, the perfect sonic rendition of that sweet moment between sleep and wakefulness. Not fully awake yet, the mind wanders without the intellect by its side – through this garden of circular sounds. Love this song and its textures, the trumpet, the bass again – „just lie to me, just lie to me, just lie to me“. (I don’t really know why this song reminds me of „goodbye stranger“ by Supertramp).

Michael: „These morning get sunrise / Tall fjord, some time lost / Brush aside any words sinking to the abyss ago“. This again like notes from a dream, fragmented, pastel coloured, wonderful Wurlitzer (even the words themselves not fully awake). The first seconds like a classic pop ballad, but then the dream-o-sphere takes over, the singer gets lost in structures drifting apart,  a strangely joyous feel in surroundings that may possibly harm you.

Something In The Room She Moves

Michael: The sense of the surreal is enhanced  on the title track, and I love the variety of her singing here. And the  sense of drama: all the instruments with their passages of power and coming to a halt, taking a breath –  and clearly, you don‘t know what this is all about, but it is all brillliantly executed with a clear sense of purpose and place. And the jazz feel here: bass and saxophone are not just colouring the scene (Robert Wyatt would love Julia‘s „jazz vibes“).

Olaf: Is „the scene/ on a beach or green screen“? The music has a flow, that is natural and hyper-artificial at the same time – I do agree: it is a „sense of the surreal“. Again: I love that bass playing, a touch of Eberhard Weber – this breakdown, bass, organ, saxophone, is gorgeous & stunning – strong ECM vibes.


Olaf: Keyboard and voice in a cathedral, beautiful echos / sound reverberations / sublime sound treatments. So far the shortest song and almost a conventional pop ballad. (digression: How is this all rooted in the „pop“ tradition? Definitely not in the song structure – there is nothing like a verse-chorus-formula here. The instrumentation/arrangement is more jazzy and avantgard-ish than pop… but it definetely has a „pop“ sensibility. So what kind of music are we listening to?). The last seconds of the song are breathtaking „what of love is a matter of love is a …

Michael: Everything in this song on the verge of falling apart: more than a whisper, less than a „real“ song. Ethereal is the word. It is strange sending emails for every single song, I am very curious about the whole experience of the album. Definitely water is the element here, there, and everywhere.


Michael: Another meditation with certain Meredith Monk echoes, the only words here are me and you, and how they melt into one another. Classic love song area, with Gregorian moods, and minimal / disturbing eruptions. What all happens, when nearly nothing happens.

Olaf: Classic love song area – a fitting description! A the same time it is far from being a classic love song. A tonal experience: first only one voice singing and breathing, then different voices join in, delicate sounds and treatments in the background, the stage gets wider – until at the end, we only hear that one voice again. Me You. I don’t know whether I really like this, but it does recalibrate the ears, cleanses them for the second half of the album. So also a classic closer for side A of an LP.

Olaf und Michael mailten sich während freier Stunden zwischen Niedersachsen und Sylt ein paar Impressionen zu Julia Holters in Kürze erscheinendem Album „Something In The Room She Moves“. Sie hörten Song auf Song der Schallplattenseite A. Das Sequencing schien perfekt. Beide waren sich sicher, Seite B würde mit einem rhythmischen Power-Track loslegen. Und so kam es: Spinning

(Julia Holter gesellt sich wahrscheinlich dazu, wenn es um die Seite B geht, und ein paar grundsätzliche Gedanken und Empfindungen zu ihrem Werk. Wir sind gespannt.) 

2 Kommentare

  • flowworker

    01 “Sun Girl”
    02 “These Morning”
    03 “Something In The Room She Moves”
    04 “Materia”
    05 “Meyou”
    06 “Spinning”
    07 “Ocean”
    08 “Evening Mood”
    09 “Talking To The Whisper”
    10 “Who Brings Me”

  • flowworker

    Mit den „schweren Kriegsverbrechen dee israelischen Armee“ hat die Initiative natürlich vollkommen Recht auch wenn sie in manch anderen Punkten danebenliegt. Und gebetsmühlenartig erkläre ich zu dem Thema, dass auch Julia Holter vom Massaker der Hamas zutiefst entsetzt ist. Die unschuldigen Opfer der Kriegsverbrechen Israels in Gaza … das ist genauso umverzeihlich, und nicht, wie manche etwas kurz denkend meinen, die Schuld der Hamas. Und hier in Deutschland kommt Israel, aufgrund der eigenen historischen Schuld, stets auf seine ideologischen Kosten. (M.E.)

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