It’s interesting to note that Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, an educational science program that frequently challenges creationist theory and is hosted by a black man, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, is one of the most-watched TV shows in America right now. According to Entertainment Weekly, this past Easter Sunday the show’s ratings rose another eight percent.
Once, outwardly considering such metaphysical questions might have been stereotypical fodder for the likes of hippies and Carl Sagan (co-writer of the show’s precursor, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage), but lately the nation at large appears more interested in these questions. What does it mean to be a tiny human in such a massive universe? What really makes up you and me? How do we transcend it all? Enter local electronic musician and animator Vox Mod, born Scot Porter, Seattle’s musical answer to the likes of Tyson and Sagan.
“A lot of times I feel like I should give up on music and become an astrophysicist,” Porter says. “I just want to find the truth of what I’m experiencing. I want to feel like I can quantify what’s happening in the universe. I want to evolve.”
His newest album, The Great Oscillator, crafted to mimic the fractal patterns of the universe, crackles with rhythms and tones that might have emanated from a supernova. “Icycles,” an ambient track created with local producer IG88, sounds like the crystal ice moon Titan orbiting Saturn. The tone is not accidental—Porter very consciously hopes his music and accompanying tripped-out animated music videos help people start to confront these cosmic questions. To Porter, being an artist isn’t simply a career path—it’s a vital spiritual position in society.
“We’re channelers, we’re conduits,” he starts to explain. Distilling Vox Mod’s cosmic gospel into a slim article is difficult, but one of the artist’s core precepts deals with challenging the idea of the self: “I’ve always sort of felt like my voice was representative of this idea of the changing, shedding of selves.”
As a teenager, Porter developed severe vocal nodules. At one point he was medically advised to refrain from speaking for an entire month, and was given a portable white board to communicate in writing. Based on those experiences, he adopted the performing name Voicechanger. Now, after a particularly intense experience with the hallucinogenic drug DMT, he goes by Vox Mod.
“I feel like there have been so many different versions of myself throughout the years . . . like I’ve lived numerous times,” Porter says. “I’m interested in that idea of getting people to tune to different frequencies of themselves they weren’t aware of yet through music.”
His previous album, SYN-ÆSTHETIC, explored similar themes, examining the homogeneity of identity in modern culture, which dictates that “you wake up, go to work, and that’s it.” It featured production by the prolific Erik Blood (THEESatisfaction, the Moondoggies, Champagne Champagne), as well as guest vocals from local heavy hitters like Shabazz Palaces’ Palaceer Lazaro.
The Great Oscillator features only female vocals by local artists—Emily Pothast of Midday Veil, Whitney Lyman of Pollens, and Adra Boo of Fly Moon Royalty, to name a few—a choice Porter hopes plays into this idea of cosmic identity shift. “That’s another thing that tied it together for me in terms of breaking down people’s perspectives of themselves,” he says. “I wanted to break down the idea that I am 100 percent male, 100 percent this or that.”
As Sagan said, “We are made of star stuff.” The Great Oscillator might be a techno album on the surface, but lurking beneath, Porter hopes his work can play into a collective spiritual pursuit. “I hope in the future there will be some sort of a spiritual evolution for humans, where we realize that there are things we can metaphysically do when we’re around each other. Maybe if we all harness the same pitch, we can lift some heavy rock or something, I really do believe in that.”
VOX MOD RELEASE SHOW With Truckasaurus, Nordic Soul. Chop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 324-8005, chopsuey.com. $7 adv./$10 DOS. 21 and up. 8 p.m. Fri., May 2. The Great Oscillator is out now at voxmod.bandcamp.com.