Must-Hear Local Track: Holly Herndon's "Chorus"
There's a bit of a Sharks/Nets-style dust-up happening in the world of electronic music these days. On one side, you've got the wildly successful club acts -- Skrillex, Disclosure, Avicii -- perched atop their neon stages as throngs of Molly-noshing disciples pulse and sway. On the other: "academic musicians," hunched in front of laptops, unconcerned with their audience, warping and snapping found sounds into compositional textures.
Holly Herndon, both a veteran of the Berlin rave scene and a Ph.D candidate at Stanford's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), is a rare hybrid of both worlds. Her songs toggle between clipped peculiarities and indulgent dance beats: Pressing "play" feels, at times, like dropping a sugary gumball into a Rube Goldberg machine. On Movement, her debut LP, she ping-pinged between the classroom and the club with a thrilling, if at times impatient, √©lan. It was a stunning album, but one that sometimes got in the way of its own momentum.
"Chorus," a six-minute single Herndon released earlier this month, seems to be approaching some degree of temperance. The track begins with a clipped arsenal of modulated hiccups and exclamations, then unfolds into a sort of "verse," then explodes into a stunningly melodic "chorus." The quotation marks are necessary here, since assigning names to Herndon's kaleidoscopic fragments feels like the crassest of oversimplifications.