Julia Holter made her evening’s first entrance onto Great Scott’s tiny stage Sunday with no fanfare, tiny glass of white wine in hand. Opening act Circuit des Yeux (Haley Fohr) had sailed the audience through a pulsating maelstrom of acoustic-guitar distortion to arrive at her set’s last song, a cover of Lucinda Williams’s “Fruits of My Labor.” Holter’s crisp tones harmonized above Fohr’s bold, audaciously deep contralto. The two voices fused into a bittersweet raw-honey sound.
In the past, Holter has collaborated with such names as freak-folk progenitrix Linda Perhacs and experimental composer Michael Pisaro, her teacher at CalArts. Last year she released her fourth studio album, the critically acclaimed “Have You in My Wilderness.” Her latest songs are delicately mazy: wandering through keys and meters, yet still compact. Here, the album’s lush orchestrations were stripped down and compressed for superb violist-vocalist Dina Maccabee, manic bassist Devin Hoff, and drummer Corey Fogel (who entertained the crowd with spookily spot-on Bernie Sanders impressions). Holter sang from behind a candy-apple Nord keyboard, twisting her long mane of hair into ephemeral elegance between songs.