It seems fitting that Moon Duo’s newest album is titled Circles, as it seems to not only describe the band’s circularly rhythmic sound, but to bring them back around to the pulsing krautrock that populated their first Escape EP. Sanae Yamada and Erik “Ripley” Johnson, guitar-wielding members of other San Franciscan staple Wooden Shjips, started up as Moon Duo two years with the aforementioned Escape EP, and then followed that up quickly with their debut LP Mazes. It isn’t to say that Mazes wasn’t a good album, but it seemed that Yamada and Johnson strayed away from the Euro-tinged drone, crafting what was much more a psych-album, often times lingering too long in the world of modern alternative rock ‘n’ roll.
Raise your hands high now, krautrock fans, for Circles is not only a return to what came before, but an immensely forward-moving and enjoyable album. Flip the switch on Circles and you’ll know instantaneously that this is a Moon Duo release – droning, fuzzed out psychedelia that throbs with a unceasing bass-line and the monotone growl of Johnson – but even a cursory listen will expose a different, more organic facet. The hint of organ is still there, the sitar-like guitar still floating untethered, but Circles seems mixed with a greater yen for an organic, almost nature-based sound. Ripley’s voice and the omnipresent bass roar live down and dirty in the mix, more layered addition than their usual driving force. Instead the ethereal guitar whine weaves together with a distorted, grit-filled crunch, filling in the cold gaps that were so present on Escape, creating a new sonic landscape for the band to exist in the process.
:Moon Duo – Sleepwalker: