Album of the week: May 13 – Holly Herndon

May 13th 2019

PROTO, the spectacular third studio album from experimental composer Holly Herndon, is a bold and curiously beautiful step into the future. Combining traditional folk singing with gorgeous choral arrangements and emotive electronic sound collages, PROTO collapses the synthetic onto the organic, exploring new forms of creativity and artistic process while keeping an undeniable sense of humanity at its centre. Collaborating with SPAWN, an AI program of her own creation which she is teaching to recognise and reinterpret human musical patterns, Herndon crafts an exhilarating record that speaks to the humanising potential of new technologies. But Herndon’s third project is bigger than any album – it’s a prescient piece of commentary on how the ways AI will affect our future depends entirely on our approach. Throughout the record, her own relationship with SPAWN reaches a new singularity, one in which understanding replaces conflict and dystopian ideas of amoral automation. Sitting at the nexus of technological evolution and musical euphoria, PROTO is yet another stunning statement from one of music’s most essential thinkers.

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