Julia Holter - Aviary - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Julia Holter - Aviary

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:8 Release Date:2018-10-26
Julia Holter - Aviary
Julia Holter - Aviary

Conceptual artists, and it doesn’t matter which art form is in question, are always walking a thin line between full acceptance and a can of flak thrown at them at every corner. Most of the time it doesn’t even matter whether their concept is good and if they have presented it well. Flak is coming their way anyway.

Through her previous six albums, Julia Holter has certainly shown that she works with musical concepts and her fourth, Have You In My Wilderness from 2015 was accepted by both critics and a wider audience. With Aviary, her fifth studio album and seventh overall, things very well might hit the conceptual artist syndrome again.

You see, this time around Holter is truly walking on the edge. She picked up the concept from a line she found in a short story by Etel Adnan: “l found myself in an aviary full of shrieking birds”. As in birds in fear, Birds in chaos. Alfred Hitchcock’s Birds. And all of that is reflected in well over two hours of Holter’s music.

But those that might have sticking points with Holter’s concept, the way she presented it or even how long it is, will frankly have no true reason to do so, unless, of course, they have a hard time dealing with their own fears and chaos.

All Holter has done is present her vision of the chaos and fears we all live in today and she has done it subtly, but at the same time effectively. Throughout the album, Holter does not go for a shock horror effect, her “shrieking birds” do not necessarily shriek, but their fear and danger is real and omnipresent.

Whether it is the opener “Turn the Light On”, which sets the tone with its loud guitars, crashing cymbals and menacing vocals, or the compositions where more gentle elements predominate, like “Every day Is an Emergency” and “Another Dream”, there is always an element of menace, sadness or melancholy to bring us back to Holter’s main point.

But throughout, there’s also an element of hope, best reflected in “I Shall Love 2”, probably the only song on the album that has no musical or any other shadow hiding somewhere behind the corner. Holter wraps it all up with “Why A Sad Song” practically explaining herself with a shimmering ambient/vocal piece, that at the same time also underscores how her music and presentation have matured so far.

Sometimes, hard pills have to be taken, hopefully, they'll be as good as Julia Holter’s Aviary.


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