Behind the Wallpaper

Alex Temple

Spektral Quartet: Clara Lyon (violin), Theo Espy (violin), Doyle Armbrust (viola), Russell Rolen (cello); Julia Holter: voice

New Amsterdam Records

Out this Friday, March 3rd, via New Amsterdam Records  is composer Alex Temple’s cycle Behind the Wallpaper. Vocalist Julia Holter joins the Spektral Quartet in this song cycle inspired by Temple’s gender transition. 

Holter, as always, is a marvel, with expressive, liquescent singing throughout her soprano voice’s range. The Spektral Quartet is given a variety of styles to play, from doleful lyricism reminiscent of Shostakovich’s string quartets to post-minimalism. The musical smorgasbord reminds me in places of Elvis Costello’s collaboration with the Brodsky Quartet, The Juliet Letters. Temple is fluent in marshaling these materials. Behind the Wallpaper deals with a significant event in Temple’s life, yet her touch is light and lyrics affirming. Recommended.