The sixth studio album by Los Angeles based songwriter, producer, artist and academic Julia Holter is an ambitious endeavour. Created during the standstill of the pandemic, Holter drew inspiration from her daughter as well as Studio Ghibli’s Ponyo to inform the project’s lyrical and musical content. The Japanese animation studio’s vivid imagery and wild creativity certainly helps to explain the experimental spirit underpinning ‘Something in the Room She Moves’.

Inspired by the childlike rhythms of nursery rhymes, ‘Sun Girl’ opens the album with stuttering percussion and densely packed layers of atmospheric recordings. Blending seamlessly with crisp synths and Holter’s cavernous vocals, this sound palette offers a tantalising glimpse into the voyage ahead. Abruptly stripping back, the instrumental lends space to Holter’s voice on ‘These Morning’. The song is carried along by a beguiling vocal performance, peppered with lush improvised horn passages.

Lyrical ambiguity comes to the fore in the title track ‘Something in the Room She Moves’. Broken imagery gives dreamlike glimpses into vague landscapes in lines such as “If there's anything I know / I can intuit stucco / The scene on a beach or green screen”. Holter’s approach to storytelling may not be for everyone, but if you’re looking for simplicity in the work of an artist whose debut album was inspired by Euripides’ Hippolytus, you might be barking up the wrong tree.

‘Materia’ and ‘Mayou’ sees Holter’s voice seizing the spotlight once again. A tender, sparse electric piano cocoons a meandering falsetto to mark a welcome respite from the previous track’s auditory chaos. The latter delivers a mind-bending stack of vocal layers which twist and contort the eardrums through otherworldly resonances. Grainy, mechanical sound design merges with organic swells and hums throughout the following tracks to conjure an atmosphere of transformability, a theme which Holter draws on throughout.

This album feels carefully constructed yet joyously improvisational. The intricately composed layers of synths and textures seem to spring, fully formed out of the chaos that comes before, all the while retaining an air of playful experimentation. Holter has described her process as childlike and spontaneous, with this project celebrating the value of taking in experiences as they arrive. In the face of such a bold album, I would agree. Even if her style isn’t your usual cup of tea, I would encourage you to let yourself get carried along - you’ll never hear anything else like it.