Mora Mothaus
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Mora Mothaus

Ota-ku, Tōkyō, Japan | Established. Jan 01, 2018

Ota-ku, Tōkyō, Japan
Established on Jan, 2018
Solo Alternative Experimental




"Overture to a Dream is Mora Mothaus’ outstanding introduction letter and our first favourite release of the year."

“Based in Japan but belonging nowhere”. Those are the words singer-songwriter Mora Mothaus uses as self-introduction in her website. After listening to her debut EP, Overture to a Dream, it’s clear Mothaus belongs everywhere. Hers is a particularly resonant kind of music, rich in melody and arrangements; relatable in its portrayal of unreciprocated love: “Tired of chasing yourself in circles / The wait is long yet life passes you by then it’s gone”.

You’ve heard these words before, but they’re no less true because of that. Mothaus evades the particular and deals mostly in generalities: within the first minutes of this EP you’ll already have heard about loud silence, days in black and white, fading colours, and shining lights. That’s no belittlement to this EP. Though sometimes bordering cliche, her lyrics feel refreshing when seen as a reaction to the more personal lyric-writing that dominated most alternative rock scenes in the 2010s.

However, reducing Mora Mothaus to alternative rock is a definite disservice to the wide-scoped snapshot she is laying down in front of us. She is invested in the breathy singing, warmth, and stripped-down instrumentals of Phoebe Bridgers or Tomberlin, but at times she can take a radical left-turn and channel the arrangements-charged, almost operatic emotion of early Björk. Contrary to what the clean opening chords of first track “Tail Eater” might suggest, Overture to a Dream is more fit for arenas than for tiny, wood-stood-and-table venues. Soon the guitar and vocals are joined by electronic beats and layers of harmonies, not so much accompanying the song as taking it to a wholly different realm. There is something of the left-field artiste to Mothaus, and though that side is not explored throughout the whole EP, its brightest moments are precisely when she ditches her guitar to go full art-pop.

Not that these bare-bones moments are without their merits. This is a record that sounds intimate when it wants to, as in the two-minute, guitar-and-vocals “Sacred Darkness Sunshine”. Mothaus’s vocals seem especially well-suited to this sort of arrangement whenever she relies on the higher notes of her range, and the commonplace wistfulness of her lyrics differ widely from the more situational trends that have dominated the singer-songwriting genre in the past few years: “Woes of the past decompose to a memory / So I’ll swear to all unknown futures / To think eternally.” Mothaus employs the same instrumental austerity with different means, as in the slow-core closer “To Know”, where a trimmed-down guitar riff adorned only with harmonics is the backbone for a seven-minute track that shows yet another of her faces.

Mothaus’s main strength is not so much her sense of melody, which stays in your head due to repetition rather than to immediate lasting power, as her natural feel for seamless arrangements. The second track “Toxic Snow” is undoubtedly the album’s highlight, its verses boasting a Portishead-esque melody so delightful that it would’ve been perfectly fine to just leave it alone. However, It progressively replaces its initial piano chords with myriad arrangements, including trip-hop beats and what sounds like a harp, instantly evoking Post-era Björk. It becomes a completely different song – and a better one as well.

Most singers with art-pop aspirations don’t stand comparisons with Björk, let alone doing so in their first release. Mothaus has written, recorded, and produced Overture to a Dream pretty much by herself, and she has achieved amazing success with it. This is not how a first EP is supposed to sound like. There’s no trial and error here, only trial and accomplishment. Chances are this won’t be the last you read about Mora Mothaus if you follow Highclouds, especially if she keeps making songs like “Toxic Snow”. Stream via Spotify below, and buy via Bandcamp. - HighClouds

"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. - SputnikMusic

"Incandescent in the splurge of gray and the dark"

Calling ‘Memori’ as “the most obscure out of the EP (Overture to a Dream)”, the singularity of Mora Mothaus is defined within the lingering slivers of his single. Flight of fancy, deemed too bountiful by the town folk, it past the ridicules, and darted off into that height where they said she could not. A story that is mesmerizing, as it is apropos to many.

‘Memori’ “delves deep into the darkest, sentimental parts of the mind… “Every time one recalls something, it’s from the last time they remembered it–in other words, memories are never real, but always imagined. Memories that we take for granted are far more fragile and ephemeral than they seem, making every moment seem so meaningless yet so precious, all at once.”

Beautifully laid.

The artist, singer/songwriter, and self-proclaimed ‘shapeshifting creature’, Mora’s instinctual rally of her words to the often times vacuous intimidations in the formulation in notes, carry you off in a hinterland of diabolical and satisfactory vibes. A purple shimmer, incandescent in the splurge of gray and the dark, the off-kilter schematics, delight your side in humor, irony, and ideologically witty stance. Her melodiously sentient alcoves, show off for her audience, a glimmer of hope and wonderment, asking and begging them to see the light. Combining psychedelia, folk, alt, and shoegaze inspirations, the world’s chaos calms in the hands of Mora’s anxious and pulsing division. Sounds and glimpses, suck you in, when you never knew you could.

Mora Mothaus officially started in early 2018, and she continues to push her ire for sanctimonious musical revelries, throughout Tokyo.

Lovely indeed.

EP ‘Overture to a Dream’ is out now. - Comeherefloyd


2019 - Overture to a Dream



Mora Mothaus is a shapeshifting creature founded in Japan, belonging nowhere.

Through eclectic performances and emotive songwriting it strives to shake the lukewarm and comfortably numb. Melodious vocals with a choral ambience combined with genre-traversing compositions are often attributed to sounds of ambient, alternative, psych folk, dream pop, shoegaze, all the way through to classical. Straddling the liminal space between chaos and composition, Mora Mothaus walks in the fire of an apocalyptic, sentimental, moody new-age. 

First making its stage debut in 2018, Mothaus began to make appearances in select, niche corners of Tokyo. 

Band Members