Fleeting thoughts on Julia Holter songs (2)

Olaf and I were talking bass a bit when changing mails about this very special work. As Tom Pikarski writes in Exclaim: „When Devin Hoff’s fretless bass enters, it does so like a layer of molasses; rich, sticky and sweet. Hoff’s contributions are an essential component of the record, calling to mind the vital role that bass plays in the music of Holter forebearers like Kate Bush or Joni Mitchell.  (…) Perhaps the greatest feat of Something in the Room She Moves is that, while there are plenty of organic instruments all over these recordings, it’s the synthesizer playing and sound design that lend the record its characteristic lived-in, sinewy and roving lifeforce.“ And now our fleeting notes. On side B. This will definitely be a one time experiment. We were not happy with splicing the whole work into single pieces. We always had to imagine its flow instead of experiencing itOur deepest listening still lies ahead, I think. That said, don‘t take our words too serious, smoke them in a pipe, put the record on – and float downstream


Olaf: A steady beat is the ground from which strange textures blossom – moog, bass, voices, noises, delays, only a few wind instruments for a change. Everything disintegrates towards the end, the textures wither away, the the song tumbles and falls apart. (I repeat myself but I really like what the bass player does, very melodic and sensitive playing.)

Michael: So here we are, at the beginning of side B. The perfect place to let the rhythm in… and, yes, while it nearly all dissoves into air at the very end, another kind of voice takes the lead: calm clear, focussed. The calmness after the dance. The track grabs me more and more. This album seems to be the classic grower. 


Michael: The ambient piece, the oceanic piece. Julia is smart: instead of delivering a purely peaceful landscape, she let‘s the uncanny in sideways, after a while. You never know, oceanwise… it ends on a tranquil note though.

Olaf: Nothing to add. „Ocean“ is another proof of Julia Holter‘s versatility; unique music, that fits perfectly at this moment. And it wouldn‘t feel out of place on any state of the art ambient album.  This snapshot of the ocean was made in the evening, which brings us to the next song.

Evening Mood

Olaf: A counterpart to „These Morning“. Being tired after a long day, its events appear like a mild vortex on the threshold of sleep. The voice binds the musial elements of this vortex into a song. Again: lovely singing, beautiful bass playing – and a dash of Harmonia towards the end.

Michael: Really, Harmonia? Have to listen again with your ears. The calmness, and the apparitions of the day receding… but after initial moments of letting loose and introspection , a lingering irresisitibe melody blows new life into the singer‘s voice and leads us through the evening‘s offerings between the wistful and the dreamlike. All in perfect union with heightened awareness. (From start on, listening to this album requires a very relaxed state of mind. My trick: darkness and a candle.)

Talking To The Whisper

Michael: Maybe the most complex song… you never know where the journey of a single track goes, except sideways, most of the time: in the second half Chris Speed‘s saxophone conjures a dark fantasialand full of wonder, a sense of danger follows, then: boiling point.

Olaf: It really is a complex song, constantly on the verge of ending, laying false trails. At the same time I find it one of the most emotionally engaging songs on this album. There is this middle section that totally gets me: „Let me light, let me throw light/ On your path, little one / Leave me time to stop and say / Love can be / Shattering“.  

Who Brings Me

Olaf: A lullabye to close the album. Major themes reoccur: sleep („As I fall asleep“) water, sound („And the eyes of the water tide / Scanning blind with just the sound to guide“), love („You, my love waking up my every day“). Sparse instrumentation, the string instrument and the overall atmsophere remind me of the Velvet Underground – gorgeous and uncanny.

Michael: This song has to happen at the end. Things calm down. But not like all is good and pancakes. Unsettling dream images pop up… („Fading gusts of luck change my breath“) … and I ask myself: what has that all been about (ready for a second, for sure, deeper journey)… There‘s an interesting balance on this whole album between, well, apparitions from nowhere (dream life), clear structures (for a while), and things / sounds falling apart.

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