6. Sea Moss
SOUNDS LIKE: Starting your dial-up while getting spaghettified in an analog nebula.
In 2017, Noa Ver and Zach D'Agostino were both solo electronic artists. Then, one fateful night in March, they were both scheduled to perform at a house show that became overbooked.
"I have a dorky circuit tattoo and so does Zach," Ver says. "We sparked a conversation at some show about our dorky habits, and that's how it started."
Instead of playing their planned solo sets, the pair decided to team up and play gibbering vocals and improvised noise.
Three years later, that spontaneous collaboration has grown into two biting EPs and Bidet Dreaming, an album that Sea Moss released last year. In Ver's words, Sea Moss' music is "mostly nonsense." But that doesn't do justice to the complex circuitry that creates their chaotic music. Using a swarm of homemade feedback oscillators and drum synthesizers, the duo constructs music that both needles your nerve endings and makes you want to dance. It's warped, glitchy and very, very noisy.
Live, the two play face to face: D'Agostino behind a drum set with a cowbell fastened to the cymbals, and Ver stationed at a table covered with wires and analog circuitry, which she calls her "critters." Vers sings while pressing a contact mic to the vibrations in her throat, creating the urgent, drill-like voice that wails to the rhythms.
Whenever they can, Sea Moss plays on the venue floor instead of the stage, surrounding themselves with the moshing crowd. Sometimes, a vigilante audience member will take it upon themselves to protect the band's gear from being knocked over, a gesture that the band appreciates but which isn't wholly necessary.
"If our shit gets knocked over in the middle of a set," says Ver, "it means we're doing a good job."
Recently, Sea Moss has focused on using their platform as a tool for political advocacy. Before lockdown, they played a benefit show for mayoral candidate Teressa Raiford, and have been spending time campaigning on social media for Portlanders to write in Raiford's name on the ballot in November.
"A lot of us haven't been doing the things that we can be doing to change things," D'Agostino says. "But I just wanna work towards changing that, personally, and I hope that other people want to as well."
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