Record #383: Julia Holter – Ekstasis (2012)

I absolutely love 1980s 4AD stuff. So when a record cops that exact aesthetic (right to the cover. See any This Mortal Coil album), there’s a pretty good chance I’m going to like it anyway. But when that record is as immaculately crafted as this, it’s pretty likely to find a spot on my record shelf…
Apparently, Julia Holter has a pretty well-respected catalog outside of this album, but I’ve somehow missed all of it. Her other albums are song cycles built around Ancient Greek literature. While Ekstasis isn’t nearly as heady, there’s a seriousness here that betrays Holter’s derision towards the laziness that so often pervades “bedroom pop.”

There are heavy reverbs and electronic drums all over this disc, but it’d be foolish to compare it to the flood of synth-leaning dream pop bands that have cropped up on Bandcamp over the last several years. This so carefully composed that it might be chamber pop if it were played on acoustic instruments. 

What’s also telling is the flow of the tracks. When I first heard this digitally, I was amazed at how naturally the tracks ran between eachother. So I was aghast when I got the vinyl to see that the track list has been completely redone. But somehow, the record’s cohesive narrative has remained intact.  

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