When Hex Cougar released his highly anticipated debut EP Under the Light of a Dying Moon earlier this year, he wasn’t just releasing random tracks or a collection of stand alone singles. No, what he did instead was present to us a whole new world, a mysterious and powerful narrative that is like a novel in its own right. It simply wouldn’t be enough to just have an audio form of this new universe without a visual component to tell the story behind his latest project. Hex Cougar gifted us with a phenomenal short film that extends the narrative of Under the Light of a Dying Moon from a sonic to visual experience.
Under the Light of a Dying Moon is a haunting and beautifully made short film that perfectly captures the essence of Hex Cougar’s latest EP. Divided into six parts respectively, directors Tarun Raj and Cody Burkhardt do a magnificent job at bringing the world of Hex Cougar’s EP to life. In this film, we are presented with a heroine (played by the talented Sumi Oshima) on a quest to unlock the powers of the moon through various trials that will test her determination, focus, courage, and confidence. Through striking scenery and captivating movements, the film conveys the message of power through adversity.
We first find our main character running through a forest with a look of fear on her face as the ominous night chases her until she falls into another realm. She finds herself captured by the wilderness as she tries to escape the dark mist that ultimately envelopes her, burying her in the soil of the earth. Seeing our protagonist fleeing from the haunted forest fills us with a sense of dread and danger in this moment of fight-or-flight. It’s a feeling we all know so well, of feeling powerless in the face of fear; that’s when we realize the only way out is through surrendering. By letting go of fear, our lonely traveler is able to continue to the next phase of her quest.
The next chapter in this film, “Drowning in my Dreams”, is strikingly different from the last as we move from night to day, from chaos to calmness. The tranquility achieved after embracing the unknown is captured through our main character’s movements in the following scenes, where we find her floating in water, balancing herself in the middle of a stream, and performing a dance by the river. Her movements are a fluid, an uncontrolled form of expression that connect her mind and body into a state of calm and focus. This form of contemporary dance becomes a hypnotic meditation that opens a portal to her next trial by fire.
As the lyrics to “Sacrifice” beckon us to “go into the night,” we find our protagonist standing by a fire, surrounded in darkness again. Suddenly, a tribe of sinister hooded figures appear before her, and instead of running away this time, she chooses fight over flight. With the fire illuminating the quick blows, high kicks, and striking punches, we see the heroism set ablaze within our main character, as she fearlessly fights the menacing figures. By summoning all her courage, our heroine is rewarded with the final stage of her quest: rebirth.
The final scene is a ritual of body movements in order to perform an incantation and summon the powers of the moon. We find our warrior reuniting with the hooded figures through her quest, as they perform a cross-gesture with their arms in union. It’s a symbolic moment when we find all characters performing a ritual resembling a cross, a sacrifice. It’s through the death of ego that our warrior is granted the powers of the moon, a power which has already been inside of her this entire time, but required adversity in order to unlock it.
This short film is monumental but also meaningful to Hex Cougar and to his universe in more ways than one. Through his EP, we saw Hex evolve beyond being a DJ and producer and hear him enter the realm of becoming an established artist. I argue this point by saying that you become an artist when you’re able to push your creative limits and build a whole new world and narrative through various forms of art. Think of Kanye West and his entire layout for College Dropout, Dorian Elektra with Flamboyant, or Porter Robinson with Worlds. What all these artists have in common is that they presented a piece of work that went beyond the music; it extended to their logo, brand, stage performance, and visuals. To execute a project seamlessly across various art forms speaks great volumes to the talent and devotion to their craft—and Hex Cougar does it with ease.
So I invite you now, to follow the light at the end of this tunnel and submerge yourself into the universe Hex Cougar has given us with Under the Light of a Dying Moon.