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  • Filed under: Review
  • 01/23/2014

Holly Herndon Chorus

The first thing most people heard from Holly Herndon was her 2012 album Movement, an LP that evenly balanced granular studies on human breath with more kinetic, techno-derived sensibilities. Judging by Chorus, her new 12", this dichotomy is still central to Herndon's sound. The producer has an imposing pedigree—she's a Mills College graduate—but even her most experimental moments, on Movement and Chorus at least, have hooks.

Chorus' fractured title track hints at Oneohtrix Point Never's R Plus Seven, or, once it gets going, a hookup between Meredith Monk and Autechre. Vocal clips at all different pitches and lengths (sampled from the artist's routine daily online browsing experience—YouTube, Skype, etc.) fly around its stepping architecture in rounds, gelling around a wrought-iron funk bassline. "Solo Voice" retains a similar sort of stammering polyphonic flurry, but it does so without the title track's pop accoutrements. Without beats to center them, the artist's vocal clips morph into quasi-rhythmic patterns of their own.

Herndon will reportedly offer a "web-based tool allowing users to compose their own version of 'Chorus' around a browser based experience." This initiative helps parse the artist's approach, which seems generally optimistic. Chorus synthesizes the widespread experience of using the internet, but it doesn't go far beyond a reflection—constructional similarities aside, the record contains little of R Plus Seven's surreal technological unease. Chorus is not quite clinical, but it's getting there. This is fine, though. Experiments shouldn't necessarily have to reflect anything. Even if it doesn't land any emotional blows, the record still has its dynamism to fall back upon.

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