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Julia Holter mesmerizes yet again on “Something in the Room She Moves”


Julia Holter’s music tends to channel something profound. It feels vital as if pouring out from a well of unabashed intent and emotional depth. For the past 15 years, Holter’s been writing hauntingly gorgeous tunes that more often than not envelop you and transport you to another realm. She’s experimented with styles ranging from art pop and chamber pop to ambient and electronic, melding it all together to create a sound that’s clearly her own.

She can sound dreamlike, ethereal, mellow, and mysterious, and everything in between. On Something in the Room She Moves, her latest release with Domino, she manages to meld a flowing, free-spirited aura with a cutting edge. Everything pulsates with momentum, pushing and pulling at the same time, always cathartic and full of the present moment.

The album kicks off with some sort of jarring sound, and I like to imagine that it’s a door opening, because it feels like you’ve been transported to a different world when opener “Sun Girl” gets going. Holter’s voice floats like an excited whisper, mellow yet confident, full of longing yet resolute. The production is instantly fantastic, an atmospheric mix that has Holter’s voice floating around and cascading over itself, swirling and tough to pin down, like a siren’s call. “These Morning” has gorgeous piano chords and saxophone jabs that add a smoky feel to Holter’s oscillating voice. Holter doesn’t just sing, she uses her voice like another instrument. She does this throughout the record, but it may be most evident on standout “Materia”.

Spinning” injects a poppy brightness and life into the record, but still maintains an experimental edge. Marching forward in double time, it’s a dizzying, jittery, and danceable number. It builds and builds and builds, and, like the project as a whole, has a natural momentum to it. Nothing feels forced. There’s a meditativeness running throughout the record, evident on tracks like “Ocean,” which balances being gentle yet quite cinematic in scope, and, “Evening Mood,” one of the highlights of the record.

It’s a long record, with most of the 10 tracks clocking in at 5 minutes plus, yet there’s truly no wasted space. Always willing to challenge her listeners, Holter incorporates some Gregorian chant-equal vibes on “Meyou”, adding to the otherworldly feel of the record.

Something in the Room She Moves is peaceful, exciting, full of wonder and nature, familiar yet challenging. It’s got layers and layers and pushes and pulls with a wonderfully wild rhythm. It’s another exciting release from an always imaginative artist who continues to add dimensions to her sound.

All images by Camille Blake, courtesy of the artist

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