Portland-based multimedia artist Veronica "Vern" Avola makes electronic music that combines a ferocious wall of sound with a deceptively subtle sense of dynamics. One could call it noise music, except that Avola puts enough into weirdly shifting harmonics as she does into abrasion. One could also call it drone, but Avola's approach to synth music is too rhythmic, itchy, and restless to fit easily under that label. She's shared bills with artists including metal band Big Business, long-running experimental rock outfit Oxbow, and has collaborated with electro-pop eccentric EMA, to give you some idea of the difficulty of pigeonholing the project. She has been performing live music since 2005, and has been performing solo live since 2008. She's had the honor of having several releases on labels such as Gravity Records, An Out Recordings, Accident Prone Records and Nadine Records, as well as releasing her most current works on her own label EMS Records. She has also booked and played several US tours, as well as played several festivals, most notably SxSW and Total Fest.
Former monikers for her solo performances: Dirty Centaur and EMS.
" Questing eternal for friendship and sonic glory in a squalling disorienting world of heaviness centered in sludgy hypnotic maelstrom. The journey is enthralling and washed in layers of ritualistic drone and noise. Avola is the perfect soundtrack for when the Thrush knocks, and the setting sun with the last light of Durins day diminishes into blissful darkness." - Coco Madrid
Photo by Corbin Corbiin
"In the midst of all the fuss directed at Area 51 - the top secret military installment a the heart of the US's foremost UFO conspiracy theory - its sister site Area 52 remains in relative obscurity. On her latest self-released digital album, West Coast weirdmaker Veronica Avola imagines the experimental weapons facility as an intergalactic soiree where wide-eyed aliens shake their little grey booties while the stars dance over the desert and nuclear rockets shoot rainbow goo. Several years ago, former CIA pilot and conspiracy theorist John Lear claimed that Area 52 was covered with secret runways hidden in the desert floor that could only be accessed through portals that open and close like giant zippers. It would come as no shock to learn that these portals were somehow triggered by Avola's synths." - Emily Pothast, Wire Magazine, Issue 429 November 2019
Photo by Sam Gherke
"EMS recently opened for Thrones and Oxbow, as part of a Thrones retrospective, followed up by a performance at the new Killingsworth Dynasty venue, which was recorded and remixed by noise legend Daniel Menche, hinting that EMS is a rising force in PDX's underground noise scene (long may it reign). Jeph Nor, likewise, is the driving force behind Volt Divers. Between the two, what we have here is a microcosm of a new aspect of PDX experimental music." - Forest Punk
"Zone" is the hypnotic new record by Avola. Portland-based musician/producer Vern Avola takes listeners through droning synth dream of tension and release. It's juxtaposition of beauty to harsh is truly remarkable. "Zone" is aptly named. We're already excited to see what comes next for this already talented artist (Vern is a member of Elrond and Prizehog). Check it out online and snap up a vinyl record if you feel moved." - Telegraph Mastering
"There's certainly a zone being explored on Vern Avola's newest record, but I'm not sure it's one of our earthly dimension. Rather, this record reminds me of the sonic areas explored by Wolf Eyes and their fellow psych-noise travelers shortly after the turn of the century. Avola uses a variety of synths (in most press photos, she’s hunched over one) to create these bristly, finicky musical organisms, and while she’s not the first to have this idea (many of the ideas explored through Zone can be traced back to Throbbing Gristle and beyond), she works it well. At times, things get out of control in a Nautical Almanac or Cotton Museum sorta way, but usually Avola lets her tones linger in the stratosphere, as if she’s trying to lure the Silver Surfer back to Earth by emitting a particularly dazzling selection of colors into outer space. Listening to Zone takes me back to the days of not knowing who or what was responsible for the random few American Tapes I was able to acquire, but loving them dearly all the same." - YellowGreenRed
Current collaborations include a duo called Elrond, occasionally with a band from Australia called DEAD and in a newly formed duo with Daniel Menche called Bear Spray (recordings coming soon!).
B E A R S P R A Y -- A delightful project featuring Daniel Menche and Vern Avola -- More info coming soon...
VO + AVOLA -- My pal Vo and I collaborated in the name of friendship. Check it out here.
E L R O N D Ian Gorman Weiland + Vern Avola
E M S + J E M
Vern Avola, known for her synth wizardry in PRIZEHOG, is joined here by Jem of Australian bruisers DEAD for 31 minutes of deep space exploration and skull excavation. EMS augments her usual electronic arsenal with sparse and effective percussion for what can only be described as ritualistic friendship questing of the highest order. -SGG
Vern Avola + DEAD
- Song performed by DEAD in collaboration with Vern Avola. Recorded by Toshia Kasai at Sound Of Sirens, LA in 2015.
Avola Remix Of STOLLER
I had the honor of doing a remix of a track off of this fantastic album in celebration of the re-pressing!
Avola Remix of BEAST (Daniel Mencheand Friends)
BEAST "You've Got Rabies On Your Breath!" was originally offered on Adult Swim Noise Comp and now remastered and remixed by several sonic architects of destruction. If you got your rabies shot already you can still blast this beast.....if not......you've been warned! CRANK IT!
Two mainstays of the Portland synth underground - EMS & Jeph Nor - explore the limits of modular synthesis on Live At Volt Divers, recorded on a freakishly nice Saturday evening in the gloomy occult interior of the Lovecraft Bar. -Forest Punk