Arthur Moon

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.

VIDEO PREMIERE: Arthur Moon - Room

Kelly Kirwan

Lora-Faye Ashuvud has slipped on the moniker Arthur Moon to propel us into a topsy-turvy landscape. The Swedish-born, Brooklyn-raised artist has found her niche in the off-kilter, those wobbly lines of a melody that send subtle shockwaves roaring through the speakers. Arthur Moon takes a mallet to preconceived notions, her music presenting itself in unexpected bursts. Her new single, "Room," off the debut EP, Our Head, is no exception.

The montage that accompanies "Room" is an uncanny representation of its sound. Arthur Moon’s rich pitch has a ragged touch, with a deep reverb that streaks boldly across the melody. The video features the artist herself against a white backdrop that serves as her canvas. At first it’s only the seeds of a portrait, unfleshed lines curving together, our musician also portrayed as an early sketch. Then the film flickers, as plucked guitar adds a folky tinge to the track, and both the artist and her painting are cast in a heavy filter.

Ashuvud’s croon swerves into a soprano, as electric guitars charge the atmosphere with a sense of lurking wildness and subtle sensuality. The music video then inverts, the canvas turning black with white brushstrokes giving hints of what she's feverishly painting. Her voice snakes its way between the ever-increasing frenetic energy, “I want to get out / Baby let me get out,” a line so easily delivered you don’t feel a sense of unease. Arthur Moon lets these dizzying elements align, as if deftly balancing spinning plates on each fingertip, leaving us enraptured and at a standstill.