Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Review: 'Platform,' Holly Herndon

(SOUNDBITE OF HOLLY HERNDON SONG, "NEW WAYS TO LOVE")

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Your reaction to this music is of interest to Holly Herndon, but not just because she created it. She's also working on a Ph.D. in composition at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics at Stanford University. This is from her new album, "Platform." Critic Will Hermes thinks it says a lot about pop music in the digital era.

(SOUNDBITE OF HOLLY HERNDON SONG, "NEW WAYS TO LOVE")

WILL HERMES, BYLINE: Holly Herndon grew up in Tennessee singing in choirs. Later, when she lived in Berlin, she got into the city's underground dance music scene. Now as an academic, one of her areas of interest is the phenomenon of how human beings physically respond to sound. And you can hear all of this background on her new record.

(SOUNDBITE OF HOLLY HERNDON SONG, "HOME")

HERMES: The album is titled "Platform," a reference to interactive digital spaces like Twitter or Yelp. One of the things I love about this music is precisely the way it invites interactivity. Often it feels like abstracted blueprints of the electronic pop music we hear everywhere - beautiful in and of themselves, but also suggesting invisible forms, phantom grooves and ghost melodies that the listener can flesh out in their mind.

(SOUNDBITE OF HOLLY HERNDON SONG, "CHORUS")

HERMES: This music asks questions while it seduces you. Why do we react in certain ways to certain sounds? How does music push our buttons and toward what ends? You may look at electronic music mainly as a party tool or an interior design accessory, and that's fine. But for those of us who might like to go deeper into listening, Holly Herndon has an amazingly rich virtual landscape just waiting.

(SOUNDBITE OF HOLLY HERNDON SONG, "AN EXIT")

SIEGEL: Holly Herndon's new album is "Platform." Our critic is Will Hermes. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.