Note: This review was co-written by myself and fellow CMG staff writer Brent Ables.
The remarkable new album by Julia Holter unfolds within the space of a difference: “This is not ekstasis / This is ecstasy,” a difference of expression that is more profoundly a difference in our being—or rather, the difference that is our being, that scatters us from ourselves and thereby sanctions our existence. This is ekstasis, literally “being outside oneself,” as it was first defined by the ancient Greeks and again by their great student Martin Heidegger (who also called it transcendence): as always already concerned and involved with a world that is “other” and cast beyond ourselves into a past that is no longer and a future that is not yet, we step out of the stasis proper to natural beings and enter into the distinctive play of presence and absence that is proper to human existence. “We go outside,” as Holter more succinctly puts it. And what do we find outside the cozy confines of our own skin? Nothing but the abyss of the other, and the uncertainty of a dark night? Or can we also find a bliss greater than any that we could kindle ourselves? The other, manifest not as a dark night but a warm radiance? Something like…ecstasy?