Julia Holter
Something in the Room She Moves
Domino Records
WIGLP506 / Includes Download Code
Gatefold sleeve, 4-page insert
Mini-gatefold sleeve, 12-page insert
2LP (red)
WIGLP506X / Includes Download Code
Gatefold sleeve, 4-page insert
Incl. VAT plus shipping / Orders from outside the EU are exempt from VAT
1Sun Girl 5:53
2These Morning 3:49
3Something in the Room She Moves 6:18
4Materia 3:08
5Meyou 5:55
6Spinning 6:15
7Ocean 5:38
8Evening Mood 6:25
9Talking to the Whisper 6:52
10Who Brings Me 3:39

»My heart is loud,« Julia Holter sings on her sixth album »Something in the Room She Moves«, following an inner pulse. The Los Angeles songwriter’s past work has often explored memory and dreamlike future, but her latest album resides more in presence: »There’s a corporeal focus, inspired by the complexity and transformability of our bodies,« Holter says. Her production choices and arrangements form a continuum of fretless electric bass pitches in counterpoint with gliding vocal melodies, while glissing Yamaha CS-60 lines entwine warm winds and reeds. »I was trying to create a world that’s fluid-sounding, waterlike, evoking the body’s internal sound world,« Holter says of her flowing harmonic universe.

After a string of dream pop albums that established her searching voice in independent music—from 2012 breakthrough Ekstasis to Loud City Song and Have You in My Wilderness—Holter released the sprawling and thrillingly experimental Aviary in 2018. Since then, she has scored films like Never Rarely Sometimes Always, performed a commissioned live score for The Passion of Joan of Arc with the Chorus of Opera North, and collaborated with her partner, the musician Tashi Wada, who plays synth and bagpipes on her new album. Something in the Room She Moves is a remarkable progression in Holter’s oeuvre, synthesizing her free, improvisatory energy with her signature eloquence.

Recent years brought about for Holter an existential focus on human connection, amid the staggering change that came with the death of loved ones (including her young nephew, to whom the album is dedicated) and the birth of her daughter. On Something in the Room She Moves, Holter vividly processes the complexity, gravity, and awe of this confluence of experience, from the playful abandon of »Sun Girl« and the oxytocin rush of »Evening Mood,« to the willful denial in »These Morning« and the apocalyptic embrace of »Talking to the Whisper.« She calls the music »sensual,« »flowing,« and »nocturnal«--a testament to how love, with all of its challenges, »reroutes neural pathways.« The cover art by Holter’s childhood friend, artist Christina Quarles, highlights the multiplicity of intimate connection: are the figures embracing or in battle?

The opener »Sun Girl« is a wild mélange of reeds, percussive elements, lap steel, and field recordings. Grounded in a spirit of play, Holter dug deep into a production style reminiscent of her earliest recordings. »I had a palette in mind of light and golden yellow,« she says. »I’m sensitive to light. The sun can be intense in LA, but it’s also beautiful and you need it.« The record’s gatefold highlights a lyric from the song—»Place me, drag me, move me, Sun Girl«—evoking the spirit of a childlike game, but also »being brought out of one’s comfort zone—into the unknown, playfulness and chaos.«

The title »Something in the Room She Moves« came to Holter spontaneously as she was naming the Logic project file for an early demo of what would become the album’s title track on her computer for the first time. Coincidentally, a few months later, she found herself mesmerized by the four-hour cinéma-vérité Beatles documentary Get Back in 2021. Her titular phrase flips the gaze of the Beatles lyrics (»Something in the way she moves…«); the woman is no longer passively observed, but actively augmenting space. Holter has loved the Beatles since childhood, but sees the title less as a tribute than as a semi-surreal bit of automatic writing from her subconscious. (She had been singing Beatles tunes to her daughter at night.) »I think the constant fragmentation of state-of-mind that I’ve experienced being a new mother came through here,« Holter says. She compares »Something in the Room She Moves« to the wandering, wistful harmonic uplift of her 2015 song »Feel You,« but if the older track explored a city, the new one is perhaps more like wandering in one’s room, capturing the domestic drift of pandemic life, dreaming into a vast unknown. »My music tends to be meandering,« Holter says. »I like melody in a celestial way.«

Holter’s new album includes some of her most lucid and audacious compositions, like the minimalist vocal piece »Meyou,« which fuses together the voices of Nite Jewel’s Ramona Gonzalez, Jessika Kenney, Maia, Mia Doi Todd, and Holter to form a beautifully-imperfect unison. The stark, starry »Materia«—performed by only Holter with her Wurlitzer—is a »mysterious love song« musing abstractly on a »rough womb« and an »appetite unerring.« »I was interested in the materiality of the body,« she says, adding that »material« etymologically comes from »mother.« The visceral synth instrumental »Ocean« finds Holter drifting on her Nord, overdubbed with a Yamaha CS-60, double bass, and clarinet.

With »Evening Mood,« Holter had in mind invoking the love hormone oxytocin, and the »underwater« production style was informed by a heavy dose of Studio Ghibli’s Ponyo, her daughter’s favorite movie at the time, about a fish that turns into a little girl. »I wanted everything to feel very liquid,« she says of the song, which features a »heavily filtered ultrasound heartbeat« pushed through a phaser. »I wanted it to sound like it was inside the body.« There are faint hints of inspiration from a record she listened to on repeat during this period of writing— Maarifti Feek by Lebanese icon Fairuz (Holter herself is part Lebanese). The »continuum« Holter sought to capture throughout the record comes through perhaps most here, in the portamento vocals, and especially with frequent collaborator Devin Hoff’s languid fretless bass melodies, recorded beautifully in stereo by the album’s engineer, co-producer, and mixer Kenny Gilmore.