Moana Mayatrix – lyrics, vocals, harmonies, guitar
Lochlan Hoffmann – drums
Austin Rogers – bass, backing vocals (Blood Moon, Feral Umbilical)
Willow Fearns – guitar (Smoke That Thunders, The Cultess, Blood Moon, E LIX A, Promise)
Mitch Hogan – guitar (Dracula, Sister Winter, Feral Umbilical)
Chris Young – synth (Scarab, E LIX A)
Elise Hiatt – violin (Smoke That Thunders, Blood Moon)
Alexandra Clarke – cello (Smoke That Thunders, Scarab)
Jamie Canny – backing vocals (Blood Moon)
Moana have been gathering quite the following from their base in Perth, Australia. The project fronted by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Moana Mayatrix have now brought out their debut full release having released two EPs prior to ‘In The Allure’. Moana has teamed up with a host of musicians to help bring further life into the imagery cultivated through the ‘poetry’ of the lyrics. I’ve seen the phrase ‘avant-garde’ used to describe where Moana fit into the grand scheme of things. That’s a pretty loose term of course used as a matter of convenience and although Moana are quite different, I don’t think they quite fit this term at all.
What Moana does well, is create an air of mysticism round them by using quite varied vocal styles backed by some fairly far reaching instrumentation. The opening track ‘Smoke That Thunders’ uses a great oriental guitar riff which dominates the sound, building and stretching further as the song expands and contracts. Moana’s vocals follow this pattern to great effect compounding a very interesting opening to the album. From high soaring vocals to a lashing spoken word, Moana can deliver the lyrics with varying degrees of potency depending on the requirement of the song.
At times, the vocals can dominate and at others it’s the instruments that command. The guitars can go from delicate notes to full on fuzz which really works to drive the music into heavier territories. Combined with the variety of other instruments, the music can transform into a rather ethereal experience. The last two tracks especially are very dark and foreboding with the penultimate track ‘E LIX A’ using some dark synths to drape the soundscape before a pulsating rhythm expands the sound. It is another track that really gives us a better picture of Moana’s vocal range. I would have to state though that ‘Sister Winter’ and ‘Dracula’ have the best vocal performances on the album, the former as we get those soaring vocals performing like a scale and the latter as it’s the catchiest chorus on the album.
Overall Moana have delivered a very dark piece of work here and one that has many things going for it. The ambience created between the complimentary vocals and instruments works on every track and are well sculpted for each other. I’m not sure what components are worked on first be it the lyrics or music but either way, the full encapsulation of all the elements works very well throughout. No two tracks are identical and there’s a lot of variety throughout. I still wouldn’t say that there is anything too outlandish stylistically but the quality makes this album stand out from a whole host of others. Moana has done very well with their debut full release and they will doubtlessly have much more coming out in the future; there is definitely an allure to draw you in.