The first time we heard Holly Herndon, we were immediately shocked at how dense her music was. Herndon doesn’t get in a hurry to stay in a traditional album cycle and for that, anyone who experiences her music gets rewarded with plenty of sounds and tones that have been expertly crafted. On her new album PROTO she carefully gives your ears a mixture of finely tuned notes through a complex narrative that stays with you once it’s finished.
Opening with an ethereal tone on “Birth” the universe Herndon is creating here has the opening stages crafted. Following up with the lush notes and sampled sounds of “Alienation,” Herndon uses multiple vocal stabs and sampled found sounds to hone in on a palette that fills your ears with a harmonious feeling. In fact, the entire album has little lack of sound, as each note is an exercise in filling all of the spaces with notes. The magically skilled vocals on “Canaan (Live Training)” have the touches of a choral orchestra while the upbeat sounds of “Eternal” find Herndon taking things to a whole new level.
The way the vocals are utilized is definitely a high point of the album, as you’ve never heard someone use vocals in such a way before. But the use of them as beat or where you’d find synths is where the real sorcery lies. The backing notes of vocals on “Extreme Love,” the way they lie just beneath the surface as a melody on “Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt” is like nothing else and the way they’re used as ominous tone for “Bridge” has Herndon breaking new ground in electronica as well as with how she makes music. The final track of the album “Last Gasp” mixes dark electronica with choral pop like you’ve never experienced, placing Holly Herndon that much further ahead of anyone making modern electronic music today. The vocals are stunning, the beats are new and unfamiliar and Herndon does what she does best-lead the way for others to attempt to emulate in the future.
PROTO can be streamed on all streaming sites. it can be purchased in all online music stores or on multiple formats directly from 4AD Records. Holly Herndon will be performing on tour starting May 16 at Pioneer Works in New York, NY until October 16 at Barbican Centre in London, UK. All of her upcoming appearances can be accessed here.
Image Credits: Photo by Boris Camaca.