Recorded at the same time as Tragedy—and featuring reconstructed bits like "Goddess Eyes" that appear on both records—Ekstasis looks fondly back at pop-art mainstays like Kate Bush and especially Laurie Anderson while crafting a more articulate take on the gorgeous drone-murk of contemporaries like Grouper and Motion Sickness of Time Travel. Holter's work has always made reference to the myths and time-softened tales of ancient Greece; Ekstasis, a nod to the Greek poet Sappho, translates as "standing out oneself." There's a detached, hovering-above quality to a lot of the album's passages that reinforces the sentiment, like the soft twilight-glow and distant vocal summons of "Boy in the Moon," the almost pagan ritualistic calm of "Our Sorrows," or the divine bell-sparkled fantasia of "Moni Mon Amie." Snippets of song refer to ancient works, but they're for the most part utilized texturally, a kind of multi-tracked choral display that augments Holter's refreshing take on the music of the ethereal.
Elsewhere, "In The Same Room" actually bumps, a bit of forward propulsion that belies some of the album's narcotic sway; Holter underpins her multi-tracked voice and a vocal melody right out of the early '80s with pattering drum machines and strutting synth blurts. "Fur Felix," with its spacious, echo-laden synthesizers—like a vast room of clocks all one minute off from their partners, chimes ringing in a kind of beautiful misfire—sounds like a restrained, art-school take on a band like Strawberry Alarm Clock somehow, and closer "This is Ekstasis" patiently layers in schoolbook synthesizer scrawls, back-room drum rolls, throaty sax blurts and enough of Holter's voice to sound as though she's resounding about the walls of a tiny space until it begins to resemble an Alice Coltrane track reimagined by a bedroom-studio maestro.
And, yet, as bewitching and transfixing as the rest of the album is, it's still anchored by intro and lead single, "Marienbad." Complex and intricate—opening with an organ lead right out of a Terry Riley piece, pounding drums and tumbling stand-up bass—Holter slowly ascends into a crescendo of voice and noise before reversing into a morning-bird kind of, well almost, vocal chirping. It's the best example here of how nimbly Holter bridges the expanse of the avant-garde with the punch of the instantly attainable. Ekstasis is brimming with them though—an album so coherently constructed that it's perhaps more notable for its instants, its moments and sequences, than its full tracks.