Syn-Æsthetic – Vox Mod

Vox Mod -  SYN​-​ÆSTHETIC Machines make electronic music. It’s all combinations of ones and zeros. But that doesn’t mean the sound has to have the distant, calculated coldness of synth pioneers Gary Numan and Kraftwerk, or only appeal to the sweaty, energy drink–swilling hordes that flock to Skrillex. It can be warm and inviting, even when venturing into far-off space. On his latest album Syn-Æsthetic, Vox Mod (aka Scot Porter) delivers electronic music that feels alive instead of inhuman.

Syn-Æsthetic could double as the soundtrack to satellites soaring through the cosmos, with its collection of lush compositions—soft swells and high-pitched electro-chirping. It’s easy to get lost in a trance when listening to tracks like “Prismatic” and “Quenched Consciousness.” While Vox Mod can create stunning sonic universes on his own, the album’s diversity comes from the variety of guest performances by Seattle hip-hop and indie-rock artists. “Iridescent Asteroid Mists” has bite thanks to Palaceer Lazaro’s (aka Ishmael Butler of Shabazz Palaces) gritty raps, while Rude Boutique offers up more introspective hip-hop poetry on “In the Temple Where I Found Self.” Anna Marie’s rhythmic chanting on “Particle” echos like a sci-fi hymn. Eighteen Individual Eyes’ Irene Barbaric transforming the staccato synth and throbbing bass of “Life Forms” into a dance pop jam with her sweet vocals. And the album’s closer, “Ecophony Infinitum,” gets a touch of smooth sensuality thanks to a performance by the album’s co-producer Erik Blood. The most distinctive contribution, however, comes on “Æon + Trevor.” The track includes a reflective spoken-word performance written by Porter from the perspective of Trevor Goodchild, a character from the cult animated sci-fi show Æon Flux, and it’s actually performed by Goodchild’s voiceover actor John Rafter Lee.

Budget cuts at NASA may mean we’re sending fewer people into space, but Syn-Æsthetic offers listeners a much cheaper alternative to get lost in the great beyond.

Review Score: 6.9

*Original version published on SeattleMet.com.*

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Hossanas Feature From The Inlander

In the Highest

Portland band Hosannas takes a chance playing electronic instruments live.

Hosannas takes pride in bringing harmony to the incongruous. Onstage and on record, what pours out of the band, led by brothers Brandon and Richard Laws, are soaring electronics punctuated with light, delicate vocals. It’s a strange combination of the indie electronic world and the avant-garde.

It’s helped that the brothers are on the same page, musically speaking.

“Ten years ago, when Animal Collective came out, we got really into that,” says Brandon. “And Richard listens to a whole lot of experimental music; I listen to some. And we both just listen to tons of electronic music.”

After growing up in Santa Rosa, Calif., and attending different universities, the brothers — who both play synths, keys, guitars and sing — realized that they should to get back together and try making a career out of the music.

Today, the styles the band mashes together reflect the brothers’ intention to include elements from every style, from classical to classic rock.

“It’s kind of weird, because we’re really trying to throw together these really disparate elements and try and make them work together,” says Brandon. “Lately we’ve been listening to a lot of those ’70s classical electronic composers — the people that redo the classical composers’ music with synthesizers,” Brandon says. That stuff, suddenly, seems to pop it into their own music. Continue reading

SXSW ’11 Day Three Recap

One, two, three times a blogger… I’m covering SXSW 2011 for The Newshouse. Day 3 included TV on the Radio, OFF!, Ted Leo, Wild Flag, The Photo Atlas, Skrillex, and, unfortunately, Dom. Check it.