REVIEW: Arthur Moon - Our Head

Kelly Kirwan

Lora-Faye Ashuvud describes the moment in which her musical moniker came to her in a dream, with an apparition from an admired artist’s alter-ego. If you're familiar with Marcel Duchamp, then you may already be aware of his feminine persona, Rrose Selavy, who was reincarnated in Ashuvud’s subconscious to offer this insight: her music came from her “inner Arthur Moon.” And when your mind’s eye gives you that kind of message, you listen.

So, Ashuvud adopted the pseudonym for her musical pursuits, which has led us to the here and now—more specifically, to her debut EP, Our Head. Rounding out her sound is vocalist Aviva Jaye, Marty Fowler on bass, Dave Palazola on drums, Rachel Brotman lending her voice and keys, and Nick Lerman offering support on guitar. Together, they create a world askew. In an interview with Audiofemme, Ashuvud described their music as disorienting and “pleasantly uncomfortable.” It’s a characteristic that reflects part of Ashuvud’s personal life: she suffers from migraines that induce aphasia, hindering her ability to speak. When these migraines take hold, Ashuvud’s words jumble into incoherent sentences. It’s an odd sensation, and one that’s trickled into other facets of her creative expression. Her lyrics are often inspired by splicing magazine clippings together, finding meaning amidst the scramble.

It’s no wonder, then, that art—particularly the surreal and abstract—serves as a recurring motif for Arthur Moon. The accompanying video for their single, “Room,” is an homage to artistic expression, featuring Ashuvud and a backdrop that doubles as a canvas. Deep reverb rumbles across the melody as the portrait bends and inverts, with both the visuals and beat in an ever-evolving, continually warped state.

The remaining four tracks that comprise the EP are equally idiosyncratic, but have a softer touch. "Wind Up" features a breathy soprano and soft, meandering instrumentals (at least at first). A male voice is interspersed, as if it were being played over an intercom, a blunt and monotone listing of society's harsh realities. We hear lines like, “The rat race is mistaken for productive work,” or musings on civilization's production of both “artifact things” and “artifact people.” Towards the end the beat surges, as the vocals, in their smooth, far-off pitch, take on a certain urgency.

The album then finishes with a cover of the Beatles classic “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” which is simultaneously alluring and haunting. A slow, delicate simmer coats the lyrics, as a skittering synth swirls in the background. As it reaches the end, everything goes haywire. It’s raucous, like a record skipping and replaying the last ten seconds on a constant loop, this sense of crossed signals bringing us to a climactic end. It effectively sums up Arthur Moon’s aesthetic, evoking feelings of unease and then just as quickly a fleeting tranquility. Arthur Moon is out to rattle, and they succeed.