Review Summary: The voice of a memory.
There is a little spot in the border between the cities of Tokyo and Kawasaki which is divided by the Tama river. The view from the stony shore is amazing, with skyscrapers blessed by the sunset, while the train that crosses from Kanagawa to Tokyo runs over the bridge and young baseball players endure their training sessions from dawn to dusk. I used to live near there when I first arrived in Japan so it’s a place I hold very dear. A few days ago, I came across a Tokyo based singer songwriter called Mora Mothaus. She was performing one of her songs for a YouTube series titled "Odd Connection" on that very same spot. There was an instant breach of nostalgia watching her playing in that place, while the sun came down, and the music fitted perfectly.
To my surprise, she had just released her debut EP, Overture to a Dream
a week ago, on January 1st. Now, I have the upmost respect for artists capable of such commitment. The year's transition is usually a period where my vitals go deadpan and I'm incapable of anything that requires crawling out of the sofa. So, I decided to let Mora take the wheel and immersed myself in her music.
Overture to a Dream
comprises five tracks that, I believe, she has been playing live for a while now, recorded with an admirable attention to detail and encapsulating a magic that reminded me at times to Emma Ruth Rundle's laureated Some Heavy Ocean
. Although Mora's songs are not as dark and gloomy as Rundle's, they share the same lovely spark of an early craft. If you are familiar with the works of Darren Korb for the soundtrack of games like Transistor or Bastion, there will be some moments that will flashback to his music too.
Opening with "Tail Eater", it is immediately noticeable that: one, she has a beautiful voice, and two, she knows how to use it. The opener sounds like an acoustic version of a shoegaze track, with a slightly detuned strumming balancing in and out Mora's soothing singing while it slowly builds up to its emotional zenith. The beginning of "Toxic Snow", as the Dark Souls nerd I am, transports me to Lordran and the works of Motoi Sakuraba, that’s until the singing starts, and a trip hop beat playing with some piano notes brings me back to Mothaus's dream world. "Sacred Darkness, Sunshine", the song performed in the session I mentioned above, is a simple, nice folky tune, with a swift arpeggio carrying the track and crazy note transitions that show a bit of influence of western music and americana. My favorite track, "Memori" (it's not a typo), is absolutely stunning. A guitar lost in reverb, static, sounds that I can't even discern, they melt with each other while Mora engraves a chorus drenched in sorrow in the back of your mind. Closing this mini-album there is "To Know", a seven-minute epic that shows the strengths of Mora Mothaus as songwriter and how much potential she still has in reserve.
After a few days with the sole companion of Overture to a Dream
, I am extremely thankful that my path had crossed somehow with Mora Mothaus’ music, all thanks to a place down the Tama river, once my secret spot, which holds so many dear memories to me, and that now hosts a truly exceptional artist.