Holly Herndon - PROTO
Critic Score
Based on 16 reviews
2019 Ratings: #20 / 262
User Score
Based on 174 ratings
2019 Ratings: #43
May 10, 2019 / Release Date
LP / Format
4AD / Label
Glitch Pop / Genres
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CRITIC REVIEWS

100
The Skinny

It’s great, difficult, enjoyable, rewarding, prescient – a notable work of art. It wouldn’t be surprising if the years to come recognise it as such.

100
The Observer

It’s credit to Holly Herndon’s skill as a musical guide that her third album, though up to its elbows in complex ideas, feels so invigorating.

90
Exclaim!

Sounding more like the future than ever before, Holly Herndon broadens the scale and scope of her practice yet again on PROTO.

90
AllMusic

While PROTO could be impressive for its groundbreaking nature alone, Herndon's meditations on the relationship between humans and increasingly sentient technology are moving and filled with a sense of wonder that makes a rewarding coexistence with AI seem more than possible.

90
Clash

The album is full of anticipation. At times it’s ugly and overblown. But it’s a collective vision, one that reflects back on our own inputs into the dataset as well as at our folk stories of survival and resistance.

90
PopMatters

PROTO demonstrates that small data and machine learning can be used to evolve our practices of art, community, and tradition, using AI to enhance our most human practices.

82
Pitchfork

PROTO is Herndon’s most technologically adventurous work to date, but it is also by far her most ecstatically humanistic.

80
The Line of Best Fit

PROTO vacillates between ecstasy and anxiety, collapsing one into the other, and perfectly captures the conflicted feelings many possess as we face the future.

80
The 405

PROTO is already one-of-a-kind, but there are times when Herndon could’ve stood to push the envelope just a bit more ... But she’s in a class of her own when it comes to this sort of electronic pioneering.

80
The Guardian

Herndon counters the hysteria around AI with an album that presents it as a quizzical, cute pet on the leash of a human master: a sensitive, responsive part of the family.

70
God Is in the TV

Successful collaborations between humans and AI is the key motive after all for Holly Herndon and Mat Dryhurst to create Spawn and the majority of PROTO is all three of them working together in harmony to create a unique record.

60
Loud and Quiet

PROTO sounds both like and unlike the sum of its parts: impersonal but human, robotic but curiously beautiful.

60
Dork

It’s something that needs time, that needs effort, and that might not be to everyone’s taste - but ‘PROTO’ is surely something to marvel at, even if it often doesn’t sound great.

musicmagpie55
50
Holly Herndon's new album was a pretty big disappointment for me. While I appreciate the conceptual weight of this project, I found the album forgettable and not intense enough. What I loved so much about her previous record, Platform, was this constant curiosity without regard for a specific sound or melodic line. The music was paradoxically organic and contrived, but it made for an album always searching for resolve. Proto asks a fascinating question and utilizes the human voice more than ... read more
usedtobe
90
Created with the help of an A.I baby called Spawn and choirs of human and artificial beings, this third studio release from San Francisco-based sound artist and composer explores the possibility of a distant collaboration with the mechanical and the machine that feeds us. A work of utmost ambition and scope.
MusicSucks
49
Huge disappointment. This album is annoying at times and can be repulsive. The concept was ok, but the end product, to my untrained ears, sounds nothing special. As of now, I don't get it.
laz456
60
Style way over substance.

Edit: Alright, I'll admit a couple of these songs are great but I'm still not into this album generally.
Doofy
69
Sometimes it sounds too much like Enya drowning in a nanobot soup.

‘Nu Age’ anyone?
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Track List

  1. Birth
  2. Alienation
  3. Canaan (Live Training)
  4. Eternal
  5. Crawler
  6. Extreme Love
  7. Frontier
  8. Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt
  9. Swim
  10. Evening Shades (Live Training)
  11. Bridge
  12. Godmother (feat. Spawn)
  13. Last Gasp
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Added on: March 11, 2019