Moon Duo shares many of the qualities of Erik Johnson’s
other band – Wooden Shjips -extended, improvisatory jams, long-distance,
Kraut-referencing rhythms and distortion-crusted motifs that shift slowly,
almost imperceptibly. Here with new
collaborator Sanae Yamada, however, the compositions drift gradually into
song-like, melodic territory, towards this four-song album’s end referencing
Jesus & Mary Chain as much as Can.
Thus, while opener “Motorcycle, I Love You,” has the
tight-circling, mandala-symmetric drone of psych-jammers like Dead Meadow or
even Oneida, there’s
a hook buried in the murk. Vocals, faint but insistent, rise up out of the
steady beat, a screaming guitar emerges halfway through, all bits of glitter
dust tossed over austere repetition. And it gets even more engaging from there.
“Stumbling 22nd Street”, with its sandblasted guitar riff, its
chilled, Suicide-esque keyboard motif, sits at the exact conjunction of
fuzz-laden garage rock and squalling psychedelic sprawl, while closer “Escape”
spills right over, a dreamy, soft-focus
vocal melody allowed as much space as flanged guitars.
If you’re been liking the Wooden Shjips head trip, but wondering
when they’d get to the point, Moon Duo is just the thing.
Standout Tracks: “Escape”, “Motorcycle, I
Love You” JENNIFER KELLY