HOLLY HERNDON (Tennessee/Berlin)
Holly Herndon’s Movement is the debut offering of material by the young musician, modernist, and machinist. Restless for reckless cultural immersion, Herndon left her Johnson City, Tennessee home as a teenager for Berlin, Germany.
For several years, Herndon lived and learned techno music as party dweller and performer, eventually returning wide-minded to the States to pursue a Masters in Electronic Music at Mills College. Under the guidance of network pioneer John Bischoff, Roscoe Mitchell, and Maggi Payne, Herndon pursued her experiments with processed voice and explored embodiment in electronic music, earning the Elizabeth Mills Crothers award for best composer in 2011.
Started at the end of Herndon’s studies, Movement is a test chamber that hybridizes her modern composition training and undying devotion to club music. To this extent, the influences of Maryanne Amacher and Galina Ustvolskaya are as prevalent in Herndon’s music as Pan Sonic and Berlin and Birmingham 90s techno. Still, in line with pop deconstructionists Laurie Anderson and Art of Noise, Movement is purposefully positioned to reach new ears beyond a niche.
Honoring a strong tradition of computer composition from Stockhausen to Florian Hecker, Herndon is unapologetic about using a machine as her primary instrument. She builds most of her own instruments and vocal effects in the visual programming language Max/MSP, and sees it as a principled part of her practice to push the most modern processors to their limits.
“The laptop is the most intimate instrument we have at our disposal, engaging and absorbing our confessions and inspirations” says Herndon. “Its influence has both devastated and invigorated music as we know it. We’ve only just begun unlocking the possibilities at our fingertips. Those possibilities are what I work towards and against.”
Incorporating themes of presence and physicality / flux and futurity within said musical expressions and tool set, Movement translates the Avant-Garde into what Herndon fundamentally considers “life practice.” Movement opens with the malfunctioning hum and cyborg stutter of “Terminal.” “Breathe,” a minimalist articulation of data complexity within the human voice, informs the processing of Herndon’s own vocal melodies in the syncopated house track “Fade.” The collection’s centerpiece “Movement” is about human-computer symbiosis and musically re-imagines what is perceived as “natural” atop a vigilant acid