Words: James Frostick
Moon Rituals – the enigmatic creative pairing of Sarah Hardiman (Deaf Wish) and Mikey Young (Total Control / The Green Child) – have teamed up once more for a brand-new 7″ single as part of i heard a whisper’s Club Seven series. The single’s A-side track ‘Aura’ is a peppy piece of minimalist synth-pop on the surface, but it’s imbued with lyrical undertones that hint at serious conceptual beginnings.
When Naarm/Melbourne’s Moon Rituals released their self-titled debut LP back in 2018, they performed two shows at The Tote – advertised as the duo’s last ever. This declaration of finality indicated that we’d probably heard the last from Moon Rituals, which seemed okay at the time considering both members – Sarah Hardiman and Mikey Young – had other projects that we were likely to hear from soon after. There was a sense of informal and fleeting beauty attached to the project. It was not a concept born from spontaneity (the project was conceptualised back in 2013), but one that could spring to life and disappear based on the whims of its participants. Projects that operate like this can never fully be considered “over” – all it takes is a small spark of inspiration for the fires of creativity to build once again. Well, it seems that spark has found fresh kindling – Moon Rituals are back with a pair of tracks featuring on a new 7″ single. Sarah and Mikey have partnered up to transform a couple of fresh demos into something fully realised, with Shaun Gionis (Boomgates) chipping in this time with some live drums.
The single’s A-side, ‘Aura’, is a stylistic continuation of Moon Rituals’ glossy and uncomplicated synth-pop aesthetic, but this time around there’s a discernible boppy element that gives the work a dash of effervescent vitality. The addition of live drums help offset the synthetic sonic palette by complementing the sprightly electronic pops’n’squelches, understated guitar noodle and hazier soundscapes with an organic rhythm. The track boasts a sense of self-possessed placidity – a contented mood, or a positive outlook. That being said, a quick dive into the lyrics show that the positivity I sense may be a response to its diametric emotional opposite. Press material for the 7″ reveal that inspiration for ‘Aura’ and its companion track ‘Painting a Bird’ was drawn from a state of “altered consciousness of grief”. Lyrical snippets allude to a cloudier headspace for sure – a sudden a displacement of mood or a shift in one’s aura (“I got a problem, I can’t get rid of it / I put the breaks on, who is drivin’ it? / I got a kick to the teeth, I don’t remember it“). ‘Aura’ strikes me as an ode to resetting in the wake of the foundation-shaking upheaval caused by grief, when self care is of paramount importance. Staying home, reading books, watering plants. Maybe a return to simplicity – and the act of reminding one’s self about the little things – is what helps one navigate trying times. As Sarah sings on ‘Aura’, “Here’s the change, don’t fight against it” – just do what you need to in order to capture that real good feeling.