It may well be difficult to think of a record more expansive than Julia Holter's 2015 opus 'Have You In My Wilderness' but it seems like 'Aviary' might just do it. This 15 song record explores the feeling of cacophony we feel on living in the modern world and a search for solitude and sweetness. Holter's theatrical vocals and cinematic synth work will hopefully find us all a solution.
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It starts with a bang. The first track on Julia Holter’s 'Aviary' is ‘Turn the Light On’. And let me tell you, she does. If you’re going to release a 90 minute long double album you need to get your audience's attention quickly. The ensemble Holter’s been meticulously adding to the last few years shows us what they’re capable of, and it’s magical.
If track one pushed Holter’s band to its limits, the rest of the album is a delightful showcase of the rest of their abilities. ‘Chaitus’ brings to mind another incredibly ambitious album, These New Puritans’ ‘Field of Reeds’. I don’t follow the contemporary classical world, so I’m grateful to musicians like Holter and Jack Barnett for providing an accessible way to listen to music like this.
Holter opts for a different approach to open the second disc. ‘Underneath the Moon’ is strange and beguiling, and is probably the track where Holter’s ensemble shows off their own musical personalities most, Corey Fogel’s creative drumming being paired with Devin Hoff’s free jazz double bass. Though perhaps the most valuable player this time round is Tashi Wada who contributes synths and bagpipes. Holter has featured droning tracks on her past albums but ‘I Shall Love 1’ and ‘I Would Rather See’ have an entirely fresh intensity.
Holter's music has only grown as her ensemble has. And though she remains at its absolute centre, 'Aviary' is very much a testament to her relationship with her collaborators. There's a reason they tend to stick around once they've been chosen.
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