Moon Duo - Occult Architecture Vol.1 album review

First instalment of yin-yang reflections from Portland couple.

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Moon Duo appear to be taking up more of Ripley Johnson’s energy these days. To the point where the twosome, he and his synth-playing partner Sanae Yamada, are becoming more prolific than Wooden Shjips, the band of psychedelic voyagers with whom Johnson first made his name.

Occult Architecture Vol.1 (a second chapter is due later this year) examines the duality of dark and light, inspired by the seasonal changes in their Pacific Northwest home and a more formless fascination with gnostic literature. What’s apparent is that MD have gradually become more melodic across the course of their four albums, the abrasive texture of their earlier work replaced by more easily palatable tones and brighter colours. This seems to have lessened their creative edge, though the same nervy drone – bridging the twin realms of Suicide and Earth – continues to act as their signature sound. Creepin’ is probably the most conventional they’ve ever been; White Rose feels similarly workaday. Their naggy spacetronica is better served by The Death Set, with Johnson hurling himself into a digressive guitar solo, and the darker Cold Fear, a primal throb over programmed beats as muttered vocals seep through.