Composition: 50% Deerskin, 50% Rayon
Washing Instructions: Light Cycle, Air Dry
Scott Porter, the man behind the Vox Mod moniker, lives with his head in the clouds. In this stratosphere, disparate genres flit about like highly-charged particles, colliding at breakneck speeds like atoms, exploding into streaks of color. The colors dazzle, but dissipate quickly into the aether. But Vox Mod patiently casts his net, collecting the occasional spark worth his attention. In an era filled with a seemingly infinite number of aural tropes and micro genres, Vox Mod attempts to approach each one with a patient and open ear, taking what aspects deserve to be noticed and fleshing them out until they transcend their feeble beginnings.
Syn-Aesthetic is the sound of Porter making the intangible tangible. Pulling from fleeting, transient, almost-meaningless genre subtypes like vaporware, cloud rap, chillwave and seapunk, Porter is able to successfully filter out the crippling pretension, distilling their most meaningful essences and recombining them into compositions with depth and purpose. There is mass and heft to these songs, a weight once lost in the irony-soaked post-internet world.
Porter’s fierce positivity has made him fast friends with many of the Seattle notables that appear on this album. Master hip-hop crier Ishmael Butler of Shabazz Palaces makes an appearance (as “Palaceer Lazaro”), and Vox Mod is a genius for having him open the show. Producer Erik Blood appears on one of the songs and assisted in the engineering of the record. Just reading the list of names involved with Vox Mod’s latest album reads like a veritable who’s who of Seattle. Again, Porter succeeds in bringing disparate parts together to create a cohesive whole.
Syn-Aesthetic pulses with electronic blood and a jungle heartbeat. The album is a collection of off-kilter floor pounders that blur the line between pop and avant-garde. “Quetzalcoatlus” resembles the washed out summer grooves of Toro Y Moi, while “Particle” layers frantic percussion over a banshee’s wail of a melody. The album busies itself with textures and concepts, bouncing back and forth between crushingly dense instrumentation and airy thought-pieces.
But these extremes find their balance on the out and out singles. Album closer “Ecophony Infinitum” is a joyous pop song, bringing together the harsh synth edges and the warm organic production in a way that’s most comforting. The same with “Iridescent Asteroid Mists”; Porter is able to build a guest house of sound that lets Ish feel right at home. And that’s one of the most impressive feats: despite the formidable star power present here, Vox Mod is able to hang with the best of them.
Syn-Aesthetic is an ambitious record, a definitive culmination of Porter’s influences and obsessions up until this point. And while the breadth of this album may be daunting, not once on the album does Porter seem to outpace his own creativity. There’s a compassion for the listener, a consideration for his audience that makes the journey all that much more pleasant.