Spotlight: Moon Duo

Much like the recently spotlighted Handsome Furs, San Fransisco psych rock outfit Moon Duo is another guy/girl duo who began as one member’s side project before graduating well beyond that classification. Over an EP and two LPs (with a third due out this year) since 2009, Sanae Yamada and Erik “Ripley” Johnson, guitarist for Wooden Shjips, have carved out a very specific sound—something informed by the krautrock of the late 60s and the dark, drone-y punk acts of the 70s/80s like Suicide. Johnson’s breathy vocals rest behind a smokescreen of fuzzed-out guitar and Yamada’s grooving organ, which all chug in primal repetition; the effect is hypnotic and oddly soothing, as if being pulled further into the kaleidoscope wheel of a good trip. Their music is visual and, like it should, has inspired a handful of daydream-inducing music videos:

[BoxTitle]“Killing Time”[/BoxTitle] [MusicVideo]http://youtu.be/YVSMDw5OOIs[/MusicVideo] [Spotify target="blank"]http://open.spotify.com/album/0dojq4kfnVA9boLqdnh1Yj[/Spotify]

The band followed their Sick Thirst 12-inch with the Killing Time EP on Sacred Bones Records. An expected tapestry of color treatment could have played well with the title track, but instead came an acidic smothering of high def black and white, and now there’s no turning back; this barren wasteland (or is that the moon?) is now forever part of the song.


[BoxTitle]“Motorcycle, I Love You” (Live on KEXP)[/BoxTitle] [MusicVideo]http://youtu.be/YsiU58qp8yc[/MusicVideo] [Spotify target="blank"]http://open.spotify.com/album/02ptoVLc55SonSOoHyVwkw[/Spotify]

The lead-off to 2010’s Escape LP on Woodsist, “Motorcycle, I Love You” keeps an dangerously even pulse throughout, giving its various flair ups of warm feedback and cool whispers something of a platform to haunt on. The solid version here came from a session at Seattle’s KEXP studio.


[BoxTitle]“Ez Street Ext”[/BoxTitle] [MusicVideo]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_poVvevKDM[/MusicVideo] [Spotify target="blank"]http://open.spotify.com/album/4AYZflFuNxn5x8PiGphlG2[/Spotify]

One of their earlier tracks, “Ez Street Ext” set the blueprint for many organ droners to come from these two. This fan video re-purposes Gunvor Nelson’s 1969 piece My Name is Oona, and it works.


[BoxTitle]“Mazes”[/BoxTitle] [MusicVideo]http://youtu.be/NvYUUes4O1Q[/MusicVideo] [Listen]http://www.self-titledmag.com/home/2011/03/29/free-association-stream-moon-duos-new-mazes-lp-and-read-ripley-johnsons-track-by-track-commentary/[/Listen]

Last year’s Mazes LP was their best record to date, and its title track showcases the very element that made it so: a healthy dose of melodic pop. And while grazing somewhat typical mind territory, the video captures that labyrinth of psychedelia vibe, overlaying live performance with water colors.


[BoxTitle]“Fallout”[/BoxTitle] [MusicVideo]http://youtu.be/PsQUcHw_Imo[/MusicVideo]

If you’re still with us and not deep in some digital vortex by now, may this recent clip for “Fallout”—which essentially lives inside the striped album art of Mazes—do the honors. This thing probably should not be viewed before driving or operating any heavy equipment.


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