09 10

Holly Herndon Platform 4AD

Holly Herndon returns to coax further secrets from the hyper-emotional core of the digital landscape. Like 2012’s Movement, the voice remains the principal ingredient here. Openers Interference and Chorus assail the listener with waves of vocal manipulation that wash through the frayed networks of glitched rhythm like a mob – one looking to reclaim the spaces denied to them by the modern dangers we face online, such as state surveillance, net neutrality, etc.

This idea of reclaiming is present throughout. You might assume, and not unfairly, that any record concerning itself with a post-Snowden internet would be largely characterised by pretty grim vibes. But listen to tracks like Locker Leak, the sound of a viral ad-campaign collapsing under its own digital weight, or Home, a letter from Herndon to the NSA agent assigned to monitor her online activity, and you’ll see that she’s an optimist. Platform refuses to despair, instead asking, how can we fix this?

Despite offering up some of Herndon’s most accessible work to date, Platform retains a crafted, academic feel; a focused set of studies carefully dissecting their respective subject matters. This is very much the case on a track like Lonely at the Top, which in essence is an audio-play that sees Herndon play the role of a masseuse, guiding a high-value client through his appointment. In fact, the track is an experiment in autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), the idea that certain sounds (in this case whispering) can provoke pleasurable sensations. Try YouTubing it, and you’ll discover an entire online community.

Paradise in this life? Maybe, says Platform’s deeply engaged, avant laptop-pop, but not without a making a conscious effort to. As third track Unequal puts it, “change the shape of our future, to be unafraid, to break away.”