Pre-order of Behind the Wallpaper. You get 1 track now (streaming via the free Bandcamp app and also available as a high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more), plus the complete album the moment it’s released.
Purchasable with gift card
releases March 3, 2023
$7USD or more
Record/Vinyl + Digital Album
limited white vinyl
Includes digital pre-order of Behind the Wallpaper.
You get 1 track now
(streaming via the free Bandcamp app
and also available as a high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more), plus the
complete album the moment it’s released.
now to receive all the new
New Amsterdam Records releases,
including this album
and 23 back-catalog items,
delivered instantly to you via the Bandcamp app for iOS and Android.
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On March 3, 2023, Spektral Quartet, a multi-GRAMMY-nominated ensemble “obliterating the dividing line between past and present” (The New Yorker), and Julia Holter, a “haunting,” “mesmerizing,” and “mysterious” singer (Pitchfork), release Behind the Wallpaper. Composed by Alex Temple, whose gender transition inspired this stylistically unpredictable and mysterious new work, Behind the Wallpaper is “atmospheric with ambiguous tonality, drawing chuckles along with hushed curiosity.” (The New York Times)
“Julia Holter’s music has a stylistic fluidity and vulnerability that made her the perfect choice for this dreamy, unsettling story,” says Alex Temple. “The piece tells the tale of someone undergoing a mysterious transformation and ultimately finding a home in another world, superimposed on our own but invisible to the uninitiated. Many of the dreamlike images in the songs were inspired by my experience with gender transition. But my hope is that the story will feel familiar to anyone who has ever felt alienated from the broader culture.”
Temple’s story felt not only familiar to Spektral Quartet but also vital at a time when “othering” is on the rise—when trans stories remain largely absent from concert stages. While the ensemble disbanded last June (they played a farewell concert in their hometown of Chicago), Spektral still plans to release three more albums, and the group views Behind the Wallpaper, the first in the series, as essential to their legacy.
“This is the album I wish my teenage self could have worn out and had to buy again,” says violinist Clara Lyon. “To enter this lush, extraordinary world and be welcomed to consider, even revel, in my own perceived weirdness, would have done heaps of good for me growing up, and also been a beautiful way to explore some of the big questions I had on my mind.”
But beyond the album’s themes—themes of exile and transformation, renewal and transcendence—at the sonic level, Behind the Wallpaper capers through the centuries. Elements of indie pop, Weimar cabaret, Elizabethan music, and 19th-century Romanticism all showcase Spektral’s versatility, while Holter’s unmistakable mezzo coaxes the listener through disparate scenes: an eerie science park, a dizzying masquerade ball, an ill-fated first date, among others. Crucial to these multi-hued soundscapes are New Amsterdam producer William Brittelle (Roomful of Teeth, Son Lux) and mixing engineer Zach Hanson (Bon Iver, The Staves), who elevate the record above traditional boundaries of “classical” or “pop” into a world as elusive as Temple’s score itself.
“These songs are an absolute joy to play and listen to,” says cellist Russell Rolen. “Every one of them has melodies that stay with me for days each time I encounter them, and that stickiness helps to embed the story’s meaning more deeply. There’s a certain subversive genius to that.”
releases March 3, 2023
Spektral Quartet: Theo Espy (violin), Clara Lyon (violin), Doyle Armbrust (viola), Russell Rolen (cello)
Julia Holter: voice
Alex Temple: composer
Producer: William Brittelle
Engineer: Greg Norman
Mixer: Zach Hanson
Mastering Engineer: Ryan Streber
Commissioned by Spektral Quartet
Written by Alex Temple between 2013–2015
Recorded in June 2022 at Electrical Audio
supported by 154 fans who also own “Behind the Wallpaper”
"y'know, I wanna listen to Mohair Timewarp." This is what I say most mornings, after being sure the day before that I am done with this silly thing. The album sounds like a half-hour version of that 10 minute "History of Japan" video on the youtubes, even though it has nothing to do with history or japan. Absolutely nuts. I guess I am stuck with/to it. quietplease