Album Review: Moon Duo – Circles
Repetition, confusion, and detachment: yep, Erik “Ripley” Johnson and Sanae Yamada have returned from their nauseating wormhole to deliver a second Moon Duo album, a physical portal to their world of far-out jams. For those not familiar, Moon Duo is the lovechild of one member of kraut-filled psych-rockers Wooden Shjips and his inamorata, whose monotonic and monochromic debut ‘Mazes’ made it certain that the family’s grasp on the mantle of psychedelica was well and truly solid. This, their second album, can only reaffirm that truth.
The key to Moon Duo is their ability to displace the listener by allowing attention to drift, before slipping in mind-blowing passages of effects-laden melody, which subtly attack the unconscious mind. Then all of a sudden, the aural spectre disappears again, and the listener snaps back to reality without any real grasp of the invasion. In this sense, at least, Moon Duo must be the sneakiest band around.
‘Circles’ takes this fascinating attribute and throws delicate ‘pop’ flavours over everything. It’s a more uplifting album than ‘Mazes’ due to the prominence of heavy blues jams and classic pop structures, as signified straightaway in the fantastic opener ‘Sleepwalker’. It’s followed by another behemoth – built around a snare-inflicted chord sequence that illustrates panic more than anything, despite the eponymous vocals insisting “I Can See”.
There’s organ flashes in ‘I Been Gone’, bouncy, tremolo-coated blues in ‘Free Action’, and twinkly elegance in ‘Trails’, but despite these variously hypnotic grooves, there’s no disguise to the fact that ‘Dance pt. 3’ simply sounds like a disorientated version of earlier track ‘Circles’. Both of which are out-done by the sludge-tastic ‘Sparks’ (all 3 boast pretty much the same riff). Fortunately this is all put to rest by the album’s finale, a real supernova of heady twistedness entitled ‘Rolling Out’, acting as an engrossingly gloopy closer which recalls the darkness of their debut.
Ultimately, there’s nothing much to deny Moon Duo here. They’ve constructed their own entirely untouchable brand of music which clearly won’t be letting up any time soon. One can only marvel at the depth and span of sound in each of these compositions.
Out Now on Sacred Bones.