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Ekstasis

4.5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 6, 2012
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Editorial Reviews

Julia Holter's second album, Ekstasis, is a collection of songs written and recorded across the span of three years in Los Angeles, California. Ekstasis marks a return to the playful searching of her 2007 Eating the Stars EP, but guided by newly-learned disciplines, slightly better technology, and nearly limitless home recording time. Holter's songwriting stems from a mythological reverence of that which is incomprehensibly beautiful. Stars was a first attempt at musically transcribing this beauty, while discovering the honest enjoyment of unadulterated creativity. Holter's critically acclaimed debut album Tragedy (Leaving Records, 2011) embraced Stars strains of shimmer, but used sparser textures in a narrative context. While Ekstasis reflects the conventions of her classical training, the album is also uncannily, if unknowingly, poppy. Holter's approach to crafting the songs of Ekstasis centered around what she describes as, "open ear decision: what seemed to sound best for that moment." This blindness to reverence unintentionally steers Ekstasis along the experimental pop spectrum most commonly associated to New York's Downtown music micro-universe of the 80s, specifically the works of Laurie Anderson and Arthur Russell.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 6, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: RVNG International
  • ASIN: B007BS10NU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,838 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Julia Holter is probably destined for comparisons with Julianna Barwick. Both choose to work alone, have a penchant for renaissance music and like to overdub and layer their vocals, oh and their names and physical appearance are kind of similar too. Even though thats all true, Ektasis doesn't really aim for angelic transcendence like Barwicks 2011 opus The Magic Place did. Instead it's a little more progressive, avant garde and unpredictable. This album floats from choral music to minimal electronic music than to middle eastern and free jazz, (sometimes in the same song). All these styles are delicately woven together on ekstasis to create a fascinating tapestry of sounds that sommehow feel like they were made for each other.

Take Four Gardens which begins with an oriental flourish of delicate xylophone hits, electric synths and a viola? That is soon to be accompanied by an out of control sax, muted drumming and some other peculiar ambient noodlings. Whilst all this is happening over the song's 6 minute length, Julia Holter's voice chameleonically transitions between the Far east, The Middle East and the West with such skill as to appear blithe whilst doing so. In The Same Room is a little more conventional in it's construction, however it's still eclectic by any artists standards. Combining the airy gradiations of a subdued drum machine, sustained organ and breathy vocals (think Beach House) whilsts conjuring up the feel of julee Cruise and Baroque music with her versatile singing/self harmonisng and a lingering harpiscord being played in the background.

Julia Holter is a very talented artist who can flawlessly mimic Laurie Anderson's vocoder brilliance in one song and match Joni Mitchell's emotive voice in another.
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Format: Audio CD
Julia Holter has a wonderful voice, and fortunately she uses it much more then on her debut (the also excellent, albeit different and much more sparse Tragedy). I suppose I'd classify this album as "electronica bedroom pop". Many songs feature Holter's voice multitracked with heavy reverb, often overlapping itself for harmony. Because of the sparse instrumentation (mainly synth, keyboards and drums) her vocals are what hold the songs together, and as I mentioned they are wonderful (often angelic). Fans of her first album will notice Ekstasis is less influenced by classical music and more by pop, although a few moments of avant-garde and classically influenced pieces still find their way into the songs. It's still early in the year, but I truly believe this album will be in my top 5 list for 2012, if you give it a listen I'm sure you'll agree.
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There’s a lot of music out there in the New Age/electronica/enya range, but this is head and shoulders above most of it. The music is complex and many-layered while being both melodious and interesting. The compositions interweave vocals, strings, woodwinds, piano with electronic effects. Original and outstanding in vocals, musicianship and arrangement. This was supposedly recorded mostly in the artist’s bedroom, which is incredible. Sign me up for the rest of her work. This is really good stuff.
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After hearing Julia Holter on the Human Ear Records sampler, I couldn't wait for her to release an album. Her first release was worth the wait, similar to other dark, electronic female musicians like Zola Jesus and Chelsea Wolf. I even gave a copy to my dad for his birthday.
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for some reason reviewers are required to use a certain number of words before they're allowed to post their opinion, when all it is they're really trying to say is this record is an ethereal masterpiece.
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A quiet room and a good set of headphones will serve you well. Lots of subtle things going on in the background. Beautiful and often eery vocal arrangements. Highly enjoyable.
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