Ecstasy,(or ekstasis) from the Ancient Greek έκ-στασις (ek-stasis), “to be or stand outside oneself, a removal to elsewhere (from ek-: out, and stasis: a stand, or a standoff of forces).” It is used in philosophy usually to mean outside-of-itself.
If ever a piece of music could be said to transport you to somewhere outside of yourself or indeed itself then this is it. It’s a remarkable work of art by musician Julia Holter. Complex, nuanced and beautifully crafted – this is music that rewards on a multitude of levels. I’m almost loath to include tracks in isolation here as they simply won’t do justice to what an immersive and richly rewarding experience it is to listen to the album in its entirety. Her vocal whoops and ticks can sound slightly misplaced and mannered when listening to a single track through the tinny speakers of a computer. But as a complete work of art this really is an astonishingly good album.
But what type of music is it? Well, it’s hard to define – you could say it’s ambient but that would be to denigrate it somewhat. It’s accessible, it’s melodic and its beautiful. But also wonderfully strange. And you can tell by her rich, polyphonic vocal harmonies that Holter is classically trained. What’s important is that those harmonies, the tonal shifts she employs and the sheer joy of melody sink their hooks into your mind, transporting you to somewhere – outside yourself.
It’s that good.
Here’s a taster:
Rough Trade has an exclusive 2-cd set and it’s well worth buying: here