Julia Holter – Aviary
A challenging but rewarding album, Aviary continually grasps towards communication, exulting in common humanity amid societal ruptures
These are strange times we’re living in, a period of political turbulence that seems to touch almost every area of our lives. An ever-sensitive artist, Julia Holter holds up a mirror to this fractured climate on Aviary, a record she describes as reflecting “the cacophony of the mind in a melting world.”
A 15-song journey into dissonance, Aviary certainly lives up to its promise. The string section saws Turn the Light On into life, its foreboding arrangement masking a pure, beautiful vocal from the Los Angeles artist. Chaitius is an exploratory ramble through an almost baroque landscape, while Everyday Is an Emergency is a startling shrieked plea.
By no means an easy listen, Aviary is nonetheless packed with detail, the daring musicality turning the most hackneyed of phrases into something startlingly new. Underneath the Moon is a whispered incantation, while church organ-led I Would Rather See is a wonderful soliloquy. Les Jeux to You moves from sparse, eerie minimalism to become a glam stomper, a piece that fascinates in its fluctuation. Words I Heard finds Holter rising up on a tender string arrangement, its potent simplicity marking one of the album’s most directly beautiful achievements.
A challenging but rewarding album, Aviary continually grasps towards communication, exulting in common humanity amid societal ruptures. As she puts it on I Shall Love 2: 'I am in love / There is nothing else.'
Listen to: Turn the Light On, Les Jeux to You, I Would Rather See