Kate Bush’s esoteric playfulness, Feist’s pop-appeal for advanced learners and warbling à la Fiona Apple in all possible pitches – this and more is what Julia Holter’s second album, »Ekstasis«, is all about. It’s the big strike everyone expected, there’s absolutely no need to beat about the bush. However, what makes this album so good is the courage – or, to use her own words, the freedom – to just make a little bit of pop. On her first record, »Tragedy«, parts of her singing were turned into vocal-snippets and many of the melodies drifted into spherical grounds before they could be grasped. Now, on »Ekstasis«, everything finds its way to our ears in a quicker and lighter way, and yet, it’s not a snack-bar-record. »Ekstasis« was created at the same time as »Tragedy«. The latter was published first, re-interpreting Euripides’ ancient drama »Hippolytus«. »Ekstasis«, on the other hand, didn’t have a concept to follow: »I was just building these individual songs«, as Holter told the Fact Magazine. This lack of plan can be heard on the record, and so the listeners don’t need to wade through a massive and foggy structure, but instead, can find individual songs to their liking. Personal highlights can be extracted, as well as those tunes not in one’s favor. In other words, it’s just like a normal record. At least, that’s what it would be, if it wasn’t for the album’s virtuosity. Holter recorded all the instruments herself and used them in such a sensitive manner that one can only be astounded by every new compositional trick. Classical instruments rise and fall, synthesizers suddenly accelerate a dawdling song, old drum-machines spice up a dandering glockenspiel and the vocoder finally gets its revival. It’s the album’s biggest plus point that Holter is able to wrap up her genius in a coating light as a feather, so that the record can easily be enjoyed without any need for analysis, too.