Aviary, Los Angeles songwriter and composer Julia Holter's fifth studio album, opens with an eruption of cymbals and strings. The song is called "Turn the Light On," and with a quality typical of Holter's work, it billows and swirls without losing definition, suffused with glinting keys yet grounded by a warmly organic rhythm section.
The album, which appeared last year on Domino Records, is the latest entry in a startlingly dynamic, pan-Californian catalog: Holter seems as familiar with the experimental electronic legacy of Mills College as she does with the mystique of Laurel Canyon. (Her band has strong ties to the Bay Area.) She processes her voice beyond recognition, and she uses the magic of enunciation to render words otherworldly. She references ancient and jazz age literature, and she makes harpsichord sound contemporary. Aviary, with its dense orchestration and powerful centrifuge, also carries forward the ensemble feel Holter first firmly struck on the stunning Loud City Song in 2013.
Holter performs Fri., March 8 at the Great American Music Hall.