Holter’s intimate pop music is planted in an avant-garde arc. Her songs tip-toe their way into familiar territory like outer-dimensional beings summoned by whispers from Laurie Anderson, Brian Eno and Kate Bush.
Have You in My Wilderness is a work of chimerical beauty. Holter’s voice slips in and out of earshot on tidal patterns provided by her elemental band. Layered waves are woven from keyboard, cello, drums, violin, percussion, saxophone, clarinet and other time-honored devices. Holter’s instrumental arrangements fulfill the mission of her songs, to transport us into her dream state. Two minutes deep into the album’s opener, “Feel You,” what sounds like a doorbell, dings. It is a signal welcoming us to walk through a portal into Holter’s dream world.
On her previous albums, Holter’s voice was veiled in blankets of echoes and effects. Here, it rings with clarity. Unencumbered, her words flow in sensuously tonal character. Throughout Have You in My Wilderness, Holter’s voice is a honey-rich vessel through which she pours verse into the aether.
Holter has a history of mingling epic mythology with mortal experience. Euripides’ play Hippolytus was the inspiration for her album Tragedy and on Ekstatis she embedded Greek lore into songs such as “Goddess Eyes II.” Now, the mythic models are transposed into a realm of romantic relationships. Still, they remain filled with surreal symbolism. Holter’s lyrics offer slivers of emotion melted into limbo state. Hers is a study of disembodied poetics.
“He covered me in cactus I don’t remember much but good riddance he is gone.”
“A man I know he lights his cigarette with nothing. Not a smile or memory his shadow still wet as my gash against the rock.”
Taking these lines out of context is the context. Her lyrics are dream shreds floating in twilight.
“Silhouette,” opens with a gentle lull of whispered nothings. Holter’s unraveled doo-wop backdrop sets the path for her lead vocal to string us along on a line of shuffled drums. Her backing vocal pokes through persistently, providing padded for the melodic incantation at hand. The last minute of the song is consumed by an epic climax. The pulsating strings that had been languorously sweeping along, rise in a tidal wave. Their final crash obliterates everything. We are left in a threadbare, ecstatic state, beached in a new world.
Glimmers of pop possibility sparkle within Have You in My Wilderness. The album’s second single “Sea Calls Me Home” is a bag of hooks bouncing on harpsichord. The chorus rings out insistently, “I can’t swim. It’s lucidity. So clear!” In this moment it’s as if Holter, when touching her most conventional state is tripped up by the clarity and stumbles into a vortex marvelously crafted by her own mind. Spiraling down, she grabs our pant cuffs and pulls us along for the metamorphosis.
Have You in My Wilderness is an otherworldly beauty. Somewhere, someone is going through a car wash listening to the album. Their windows are squirted with rainbow foam. A mechanized track pulls them forward into spinning brushes. On the other side of the bristles another universe awaits. A seashore of jeweled dreams glistens. These are Holter’s creations and if we are listening she will transport us completely.