Holly Herndon

New Sounds with Holly Herndon and Glenn Kotche (of Wilco)

Glenn Kotche/Holly Herndon (Friday night at the 40 Watt)
by Dan Mistich

This year’s installment of Slingshot features a host of performers who have built a reputation for composing works incongruent with the formal expectations of modern pop music. Instead, these performers have begun composing works that chart new territory using both electronic and analog instruments that turn traditional approaches to composition on their head.

Although he is perhaps known best for his consummate drum and percussion work for the acclaimed American rock band Wilco since the band’s seminal Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Glenn Kotche has established himself as a singular composer in his own right. Drawing heavily on the use of found objects and other natural elements (including insects), Kotche has released four solo albums featuring otherworldly percussive soundscapes: Introducing (2002), Next (2006), Mobile (2009), and Adventureland (2014). In addition to his own solo recordings, Kotche has recorded and performed with a number of acts including The Kronos Quartet, Andrew Bird, On Fillmore and Wilco-related projects Loose Fur, The Nels Cline Singers and The Minus 5.

While the San Francisco-based Holly Herndon uses an entirely different set of tools than Kotche, her compositions are no less mesmerizing. Herndon’s latest release, an EP entitled Chorus, finds Herndon sampling sounds from her own experiences online, using sounds from Skype and YouTube to create textures that investigate our relationship to modern technology. Her innovative approach to creating electronically-produced soundscapes has been the subject of considerable attention across the globe, fascinating both critics and club-goers alike. Drawing heavily on the canon of electronic music that includes artists such as Coil and Aphex Twin while managing to forge new ground, Herndon manages to create a sonic universe that is at once familiar and disorienting.