Holly Herndon – Movement (RVNG Intl.)
By Scott Creney
It opens with the sound of raking leaves, or maybe someone dragging a dead body through the slush. Eventually the dragging is joined by a bass, and then the sound of breaking glass is slowed to a slug-like pace. Someone is tapping against the window begging to be let in. By the time you hear the cicadas, let alone the synthetic mouth-harp, you are in a different place than you started. Holly Herndon has the power to transform reality through sound.
And that’s barely halfway into the first song. Suffice to say that Movement is an auditory feast. It’s no Bob Dylan but then John Lennon was no Kraftwerk, you know what I mean? Vocals surface in the second song, called ‘Fade’ appropriately enough, but they’re too manipulated, too chopped and screwed to exist as language. The voice goes by like highway signs viewed from the backseat.
It’s varied and eclectic in ways you don’t usually hear in electronic music (or rock music, for that matter). It veers from the club into straight-up electro-acoustic experimentation. It’s interesting (as in you can think about it) and visceral (as in you can feel about it) at the same time — simultaneously evoking Actress and Alvin Lucier (and that’s just the A’s).
Few electronic composers have more than one interesting idea. Aphex Twin reached three before retreating into the background. The ambient Eno had, at most, two. Holly Herdon is fucking bursting with them.
I’ve been reading this book non-stop for the past three days. Movement totally fits.
If Holly Herndon hasn’t read it yet, I hope someone who loves her buys her a copy for Christmas. Hell, if she’s going to be in north Georgia or eastern Tennessee during the holidays I’ll even let her borrow mine for a few hours. I feel like there’s a connection here, but I don’t feel comfortable making it on her behalf.
And I hope she calls the next one Power, Corruption And Lies.