Born in Tennessee and now based in the Bay Area, Holly Herndon isn't just a practicing musician, but a legitimate scholar in her field, since she received a master's degree in electronic music from Mills College. Along the way, she took part in Berlin's techno scene (and in that sense, she recalls Maria Minerva, who similarly blurs the distinctions between the dance floor and the classroom).
Herndon's instructors at Mills included John Bischoff, Roscoe Mitchell, and Maggi Payne. I also hear a lot of Laurie Anderson in her debut as she slices, dices, and rearranges her voice into every possible permutation, further providing a link with her label mate, Julia Holter (if Holter's work is less abstract, the stately, vocoder-saturated "Goddess Eyes II" betrays a strong Anderson influence). The results are strange, spooky, and utterly compelling. As additional references, the press notes cite Karlheinz Stockhausen, Florian Hecker, and Art of Noise.
There's no mention of Kraftwerk or science-fiction authors like J.G. Ballard or Philip K. Dick, though Herndon seems equally interested in the relationship between man and machine, lending her work a strong science-fiction dimension ("Terminal" is the only track that reminds me of the recently reinvigorated Düsseldorf outfit as she captures the feeling of restless stasis followed by rapid flight). In the notes, she states, "The laptop is the most intimate instrument we have at our disposal, engaging and absorbing our confessions and inspirations."
Movement is haunting, but never hopeless. In movie terms, it's the equivalent of some of the more outré moments from the careers of Stanley Kubrick and David Cronenberg, who have adapted Ballard (Cronenberg's Crash) and collaborated with electronic pioneers like Wendy Carlos (Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange and The Shining), another possible influence on Herndon's audacious soundscapes.
Movement is out now on RVNG Intl. (original release date: Nov 12).