A few months ago, experimental electronic composer Holly Herndon announced her new album, PROTO, the follow-up to her 2015 LP Platform. We’ve already heard its lead single, “Eternal,” and the Jlin-assisted “Godmother.” Now, Herndon shares “Frontier.” The song, as well as the rest of the album, was created in collaboration with an ensemble of vocalists and developers and Spawn, “an inhuman intelligence housed in a DIY souped-up gaming PC.”
A chorus sings skyward on “Frontier,” their voices eventually manipulated and overtaken by a hiccuping beat. The song sits between the euphoric “Eternal” and the frenzied “Godmother” on the album.
Listen to “Frontier” below, and read Herndon’s statement about it.
I went to an international Sacred Harp Meetup in Berlin where I live, which was jointly led by Evelyn Saylor (an ensemble collaborator who helped to arrange “Frontier” to more accurately reflect the tradition), and people gathered in a square to sing facing each other. When I stood in the middle the power of the voices brought me to tears. It was partly pure sonics and the beauty of the songs, but also the sight of witnessing people from all different backgrounds come together under such a simple and elegant premise. There were visitors from afar for whom the experience clearly had some deep religious significance. There were even more visitors clearly drawn to the event for other reasons, albeit the nature of the communion itself, or just to nerd out on the music. It felt like a rare union.
PROTO is out 5/10 on 4AD. Pre-order it here.