Fans of San Franciscan psych-rockers Wooden Shjips may already be familiar with Moon Duo, the side project of extravagantly bearded leader Ripley Johnson and his partner Sanae Yamada.
Dazzling first full album proper from US twosome.
A couple of prior EPs have posited them as droney experimentalists in the vein of Suicide and VU, but nothing quite prepares you for this terrific full debut. It’s brighter, for a start, with opener Seer splashing onward via sustained keyboards and guitar into a mighty cosmic wibble that stretches the six-minute mark.
Once they were largely minimal; now they favour bold, accessible hooks and pounding rhythms. Wooden Shjips draw much of their primal power through repetition at worryingly high volume, but Moon Duo – for the most part – do it through texture and melody.
The cavernous Fallout, for example, achieves sensory overload with a bucking riff that suddenly latches on to a razorwire rhythm, before being swamped by mounds of fuzz guitar. It’s the same with When You Cut, which sounds like Silver Apples and a 60s garage band making merry hell with banks of keyboard effects and overdriven guitar.
There’s still the sense of a ritualistic layering of pure sound – a la Spacemen 3, or indeed the Shjips themselves – but Mazes is altogether more playful. Still a heck of a racket, mind.