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Sea Moss
SEAMOSS2 Jon Buckland , October 26th, 2022 07:32

Portland duo make an unruly racket sound like a whole heap of fun, finds Jon Buckland

The unsettling Youtube sensation Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared recently took the leap to full television series status. In it three friends/roommates (very much up for debate) are visited by confounding, inept, irritating, and sinister characters who wish to teach them some sort of dubious life lesson via the medium of song. This typically results in a musical number with a shrill peak of pure cacophonous mayhem, causing blood to weep from the eyes and ears of the three pals. SEAMOSS2 is what you’d get if you mashed all of those chaotic moments into one unhinged record.

Sea Moss is an unruly beast. It can be found somewhere in a ballpark populated by a less civilised Fuck Buttons or perhaps Animal Collective running amok with East West Blast Test’s circuit-bent toy collection. The unruly Portland pair’s new album is a game of two halves, the latter portion of which is entirely improvised. So much so that vocalist Noa Ver can’t be entirely certain of the lyrics to the whole thing.

As you might expect, then, side B is quite exploratory. Bird-like sounds are given space to bweeep solitarily during ‘Feeding Frenzy’ before descending into what can only be described as a wasp-chomping competition. ‘Needy Needy’ is formed of violent, chattering-teeth oscillations that allow Zach D’Agostino’s stick work to clink and clatter, building into a nervous whirlwind of percussion. ‘Snake Lady’ is surprisingly cogent for a jam session whilst the beat of ‘Number Dreams’ is simplified down to a Betty Davis style strut allowing Ver to exercise her contact mic’d pipes and screaming DIY electronics.

As with any experiments, there’s a chance of failure. But, for every instance where it meanders unchecked, there are four or five moments where it gels into a discordant yet coordinated hotbed of thoroughbred havoc. The album’s A-side, however, is where the gloves really come off.

‘Split Hairs’ trills together like a pair of washing machines snogging. ‘Candy Run’ lurches in like a homemade robot pleading for its life via the 56k dial up modem it’s been gifted in lieu of a voice box. There’s a thumping drum assault and the sort of shaky girder bass we’ve come to expect from Sea Moss’s tour mates, Lightning Bolt, on album opener ‘Nap Time’. One frenetic rhythm eagerly tumbles into another as heavily saturated electronic fog horns blast over Ver’s harsh, distorted vocals. The squelched cadence providing a playful edge.

And playful seems to be the name of the game here. In particular, on the track ‘Pig’s Feet’ with its shrieks, howls, ringing telephones, and a drummer hot-wired to a lit car battery. You can practically hear the acid leaking from D’Agostino’s Duracell Bunny arms as he pistons and convulses rhythms into life. When the beat isn’t hot stepping, it’s being blasted like the last rites of a Scandinavian daubed in corpse paint. Some might see that as serious but, above all, it is fun. And what’s more fun than a couple of friends singing some songs together until their ears bleed?