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HOLLY HERNDON

Holly Herndon

Proto

    Holly’s third full-length album "Proto" isn’t about A.I., but much of it was created in collaboration with her own A.I. baby, 'Spawn'. For the album, she assembled a contemporary ensemble of vocalists, developers and an inhuman intelligence housed in a DIY souped-up gaming PC to create a record that encompasses live vocal processing and timeless folk singing, and places an emphasis on alien song craft and new forms of communion. "Proto" makes reference to what Holly refers to as the protocol era, where rapidly surfacing ideological battles over the future of A.I. protocols, centralised and decentralised internet protocols, and personal and political protocols compel us to ask ourselves who are we, what are we, what do we stand for, and what are we heading towards?

    "Eternal" follows the 2018 release of Holly and Jlin’s collaborative song "Godmother (feat. Spawn)". The skittering track, which was created by Spawn reimagining the artworks of her 'godmother' Jlin in a trained model of her mother’s voice with no editing or sample trickery, was praised everywhere from NPR to The Guardian to New York Times, and elsewhere. You can hear traces of Spawn throughout the album, developed in partnership with long time collaborator Mathew Dryhurst and ensemble developer Jules LaPlace, and even eavesdrop on the live training ceremonies conducted in Berlin, in which hundreds of people were gathered to teach Spawn how to identify and reinterpret unfamiliar sounds in group call-and-response singing sessions; a contemporary update on the religious gathering Holly was raised amongst in her upbringing in East Tennessee.

    'There’s a pervasive narrative of technology as dehumanizing,' says Holly. 'We stand in contrast to that. It’s not like we want to run away; we’re very much running towards it, but on our terms. Choosing to work with an ensemble of humans is part of our protocol. I don’t want to live in a world in which humans are automated off stage. I want an A.I. to be raised to appreciate and interact with that beauty.'

    Since her arrival in 2012, Holly has successfully mined the edges of electronic and avant garde pop and emerged with a dynamic and disruptive canon of her own, all while studying for her soon-to-be-completed PhD at Stanford University, researching machine learning and music. Her LP "Platform" closed out 2015 by gracing year-end lists from Pitchfork, The Guardian, NME, and The Wire. In the aftermath, Radiohead hand-picked her to open up their European tour. Just as "Platform" forewarned of the manipulative personal and political impacts of prying social media platforms long before popular acceptance, "Proto" is a euphoric and principled statement setting the shape of things to come.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Matt says: Someone call Elon Musk! Holly Herdon offering the machines some piecework here, enlisting the ghosts of Terminator 2 to concoct a really quite cerebral piece of haunted-electronic-folk experimentation. Scared? You should be!

    TRACK LISTING

    01. Birth
    02. Alienation
    03. Canaan (Live Training)
    04. Eternal
    05. Crawler
    06. Extreme Love (with Lily Anna Haynes And Jenna Sutela)
    07. Frontier
    08. Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt
    09. SWIM
    10. Evening Shades (Live Training)
    11. Bridge (with Martine Syms)
    12. Godmother (with Jlin)
    13. Last Gasp

    Holly Herndon

    Platform

      4AD release ‘Platform’, the new album by American artist Holly Herndon.

      Holly Herndon has become a leading light in contemporary alternative and electronic music by fearlessly experimenting within the outer reaches of dance music and pop songwriting structures.

      A galvanizing statement, ‘Platform’ cements Herndon’s reputation as a unique musician with a singular voice. Born in Tennessee but reared on music abroad, Herndon broke out from her formative years in Berlin’s minimal techno scene to repatriate to San Francisco, where she currently lives and studies as a doctoral candidate at Stanford’s Center For Computer Research In Music And Acoustics (CCRMA).

      To achieve ‘Platform’, Herndon has opened up her process to vital artists and thinkers from her creative circle, including radical Dutch design studio Metahaven and digital DIY artist Mat Dryhurst, leading by example to tackle a host of topics ranging from systemic inequality, surveillance states, and neofeudalism. ‘Platform’ underscores the need for new fantasies and strategic collective action.

      Herndon’s debut album ‘Movement’, released in 2012, showcased her fascination with trance and the disjunctive sampling techniques pioneered by avant-garde composition. Subsequent singles ‘Chorus’ and ‘Home’ (rolled out in advance of ‘Platform’) humanized the laptop by celebrating its capacity for memory storage and lamenting its vulnerability in light of revelations of mass surveillance.

      Offering what Herndon describes as “a rupture, a paradisic gesture,” ‘Platform’ is an optimistic breakthrough for Herndon, an appeal for progress and a step toward new ways to love.


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