Words: Cam Hurst
A few months ago I saw Moana play at a Little Wing Corner Gallery gig and was mesmerized and terrified in equal parts. Backed by three unassuming guys, front woman Moana Lutton writhed with spasmodic glee as she spat out gothic lyrics and thrashed her guitar. A few audience members looked notably uncomfortable as she laid her piercing gaze on them through a thick layer of eye makeup. The group’s EP The Trilogy of the Black Monsoon is an impressive encapsulation of their intoxicating live presence.
Released in three sections, The Trilogy of the Black Monsoon is a 7 track EP Moana produced via a crowd funding campaign and government grants. Accompanying the EP is a set of videos that are an extension of the group’s cohesive aesthetic. Prolific Perth producer Andrew Lawson (The Chemist, Little Birdy, End Of Fashion, Eskimo Joe, The Fergusons, Gyroscope and Sugar Army) has helped to create a piece of art that is dark and atmospheric, with Moana’s visceral vocals cutting through reverb drenched guitar and primitive drums.
The first track on the EP, Golden Orb begins with a whispered chant – ‘what I want is your blood, what you want is my love, what we need is a fuck, what we have’s not enough…’ The whisper rises and rises to an impassioned keen over a thumping beat, and it’s clear that Moana means business. Replete with a classic rock riff, Golden Orb is also testament to the creative creepiness of Moana’s lyrics. She shrieks for the audience to ‘feel the insects crawling over your skin’, putting any sane listener on edge.
An ominous spoken word recording, Creature Beyond Human Feature is a standout. Jittery guitar supplements the refreshingly Aussie accented recital of a monologue centering on a female character and some vivid imagery of the natural world. The perfect rhyme used in the lyrics creatures an almost nursery rhyme-like effect, which is then undercut by Moana’s chilling delivery.
The Trilogy of the Black Monsoon has a ritualistic feeling; listening to it is as if we could be dancing wildly around a flickering fire, making maddened eye contact over the flames with others who are similarly losing their minds. All the while, shaman Moana presides over with guttural vocal expulsions, guiding us through her twisted world. The Black Monsoon, one of the two songs released in the third part of the EP, is a step away from the pagan frenzy of the other tracks. Over minimalistic accompaniment, Moana allows her voice to alternate between leaping melodic jumps and soft, menacing ‘oohs’ in a fitting closing track.
In a culture where image means so much, Moana have latched onto a distinctive and effective aesthetic. Far from denoting superficiality, this instead differentiates their brand of mystical psychedelia from the masses. The Trilogy of the Black Monsoon is a lucid realization of a powerful woman’s artistic vision, and is definitely worth a listen.
Celebrating the launch of their EP, Moana will be performing alongside Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, Joni in the Moon, HYLA and Leure on Oct 31 at The Odd Fellow for a spooky Halloween spectacular.