Loud City Song is the new studio recording by Los Angeles based artist Julia Holter, set for release by Domino on August 20th 2013 (August 19th in the rest of the world). The album is Holter’s third full length release in as many years – following 2011’s groundbreaking debut Tragedy and last year’s follow-up, the critically lauded Ekstasis.
Her first studio album proper, Loud City Song is both a continuation and a furthering of the fiercely singular and focused vision displayed by its predecessors, taking as it does Holter’s rare gift for merging high concept, compositional prowess and experimentation with pop sensibility and applying it to a set of even more daringly beautiful arrangements and emotionally resonant songs.
Holter’s artistic process is a ceaseless outpouring. She often conceives, writes and records material intended for numerous records at once – recalling and remoulding various strands of ideas and inspiration as the remarkably vivid worlds and the detailed narratives her records conjure come into focus over time.
The songs that make up Loud City Song were coaxed out and finessed as demos in Holter’s bedroom studio and then coalesced into one thrillingly cohesive experience by Holter and co-producer Cole Marsden Grief-Neill and an ensemble of Los Angeles musicians. The result is an album of enormous ambition – taking its cues from the likes of Joni Mitchell and the poetry of Frank O’Hara but forging those inspirations into something resolutely unique
Whilst Holter’s recordings have always been defined by the scope of their musicality – Tragedy saw her malleable, hugely touching voice accompanied by synths, drum machines, cello, saxophone, keyboards, ensemble players, a chorus and more – Loud City Song sees her leave the limits of midi patches and home recording well and truly behind – adding even more intricacy and invention to her unique palette. Rich, fabulously textured and bathed in her own brand of heavenly ambience, it’s a record that simply sounds tremendous and endows her songs with a grandeur and dramatic poise only hinted at previously – perfect given the cinematic nature of the material itself.
For Holter, a single notion or phrase is often enough to inspire an entire record’s worth of material. Just as Tragedy took its core inspiration from one line plucked from Euripides’s Hippolytus and became one of the most forward-thinking, emotionally impactful and culturally relevant albums of recent times, Loud City Song also uses a classic literary reference – Colette’s 1944 novella Gigi – as a prism through which Holter is able to explore her own perspective on modern life. In this instance, she explores her own feelings about the superficial celebrity-obsessed contemporary media-both within her native LA and beyond-through a prism of the tale of the young Gigi being unwittingly groomed for a career as a courtesan in gossipy turn-of-the-century Paris.
“There are lots of things about Gigi that interest me”, explains Holter. “I think I could apply it very generally to feelings I’ve had in the past, growing up in a time and place where everyone is obsessed with celebrity, and watching paparazzi chase after famous people. I actually didn’t have to deal with that much growing up, because I wasn’t surrounded by a Hollywood crowd, and LA is really big, but there still were hints of it, and I think we all see it, in reality television, which I think is horrific and boring. Gigi shares sentiments about things like this being boring, I think. I liked her character a lot and I wanted to do something with the story so it inspired me to think of my experience with LA in comparison to hers with Paris.”
Over the course of the nine songs on Loud City Song Holter projects the story of Gigi on to modern day LA, navigating its strangeness, beauty and madness from a number of perspectives and vantage points in incredibly evocative fashion. “I think the thing about LA is it’s hard to pin down exactly what it is—what it’s like, how it sounds, how it smells”, says Holter, “so when people make music about LA, which a lot of people do, it’s hard to identify particular things about it and it just becomes this great abstract or collage.”
The way Loud City Song captures those intangibles in its feeling, sound and dynamics lies at the very heart of the album’s beauty. It’s not just an album about a city in a two dimensional sense but an album that seems in possession of the very essence of the place itself, an album that extends an invitation not just to listen to it but to inhabit it, to discover it. As such Loud City Song takes a place in the great, time-honoured tradition of the artist’s fascination with the idea of the city itself – the chaos, romance, corruption, beauty and intense humanity of it all. “The city in the record could be any city really,” explains Holter, “and this media fascination with celebrity is everywhere – inescapable, scary.”
The new, self-titled, self-released solo album of Nedelle Torrisi is scheduled for a September release, and it’s a fresh start in more ways than one. After a career of acclaimed collaborations—recording as half of Cryptacize or a member of The Curtains, or touring with Sufjan Stevens—and solo work as simply “Nedelle,” Nedelle Torrisi is Torrisi’s first record under her own full name. Its pared-down R&B style looks back to the radio hits of her childhood, like young Sade or classic Prince, that managed to combine the innocence of youth with a knowing worldliness. It also represents the fruition of her musical partnership with friend, housemate, and now, producer Kenny Gilmore (Ariel Pink). With the help of collaborators as stellar as Ramona Gonzalez (Nite Jewel), Julia Holter and Dev Hynes (Blood Orange), Gilmore also plays most of the instruments that drive the album’s bright, cool soundscapes. There’s also a bonus acoustic EP of Torrisi’s takes with piano accompaniment, to put the focus more squarely on Torrisi’s literate songwriting and a voice the New York Times called “guileless…an earnest instrument of pleasure and petition.” Before it became self-titled, Torrisi began recording this project under the name “Paradise,” and it’s easy to hear why. Nedelle Torrisi’s melancholy pop encapsulates at once the bittersweet nostalgia for an Eden lost and the longing for a heaven just out of reach.
Despite a childhood steeped in music, Brian Allen Simon only began to appreciate his father’s records after he developed an obsession with hip hop in his teens and went to college to study music. After an intense love affair with jazz and the saxophone, an internship at seminal LA label Alpha Pup and a journey through Music History and Theory at UCLA, Brian landed at the foot of his own label, Non Projects, releasing music from artists such as Asura and Ana Caravelle along with remixes that range from Shigeto to Julia Holter. As Anenon, Brian carves out highly textured sounds that are extremely personal, patient and thoughtful – music to live inside of, always revealing new paths with each listen. Brian has shared the stage with everyone from electronic music legend Morton Subotnick to Baths and is an alumni of the 2011 Red Bull Music Academy.
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wild Up! orchestra (Outside in the courtyard)
wild Up is the Los Angeles contemporary music ensemble lauded as “Searing. Penetrating. And Thrilling.” by Fred Child of Performance Today and “Magnificent” by Mark Swed of the LA Times.
Since appearing in 2010 wild Up has been Orchestra in Residence at the Hammer Museum, Ensemble in Residence with American Composers Orchestra and at CalArts in REDCAT. They have been featured at the Broad Stage, Beyond Baroque, the Armory Center for the Arts, and the Jensen Rec. Center Studio. Their recordings of Shostakovich, Rzewski and Messiaen have been featured on KUSC, KPFK and American Public Media’s Performance Today.