Reviewed by: Ziggy Merritt
Music for androids is how I might initially describe Platform, the latest album by pioneering electronic sorceress, Holly Herndon. With strange vocals, samples, and a wonderful if emotionally stark tone, Platform depicts at times a neo-noir vision of the future (think Blade Runner) and at others a more introspective look into our society’s own technological future.
Each track on the album is best viewed as individual compositions. Herndon begins by introducing the vocal textures and sounds that later come together to create a unified whole, something that becomes more impressive as the album progresses. The momentum for each composition often takes some time to pick up before a more concrete image can be deciphered, but Herndon makes it worth the effort. The initial two tracks, “Interference” and “Chorus”, carry the most adrenaline and introduce Herndon’s deftness at layering electronically-filtered vocals along with the clutter and noise of ambient and artificial bits and pieces.
The momentum of these two tracks then drops to introduce the more introspective mood of Platform in the track “Unequal.” The unified sounds represent the melancholic voices of a chorus against the rumblings of something deep and ominous in the background. It’s unexpected but gives the keen listener the expectation of greater things to come.
And Herndon doesn’t disappoint. “Morning Sun” is the most immediately harmonious track on Platform, a somewhat stark departure from the moodier tones of the album. It’s progressive and hopeful, almost a love song but still enigmatic and inspiring. “Locker Leak” immediately follows this, presenting what might best be described as the mind of robot learning about 15-second preppy television ads with samples like, “be the first of your friends to like Greek yogurt this summer.”
Yet the strangest part comes in “Lonely At The Top”, which acts as a sort of intermission before the second act of Platform. It resembles an awkward radio play where you take the seat of someone in some position of power receiving the care and attention of a whispery-voiced and gushingly sentimental masseuse. It has a disturbing quality -wet, sucking sounds en masse- but if anything keeps up the delightful randomness that defines the scope of Platform.
The tracks following this are perhaps weaker in execution but still carry the mystique and compelling momentum of the previous compositions. Your mind is never bored or left wanting, giving Herndon’s Platform a unique profundity that is singular to her experimental aesthetic.