Moon Duo - Occult Architecture Vol. 2

by Jim Harris Rating:6 Release Date:2017-05-05

When it comes to certain music, predictability isn’t always a negative it’s a comfort.  Moon Duo, the two-person romantic couple team of Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada, Ripley being a guitarist and Sanae a keyboardist, this Volume 2 of Occult Architecture has a decided predictability factor about it.

Volume 2, straight up, is not quite as interesting as Volume 1, released earlier this year. Volume 2 sounds a lot like outtakes, a bit, especially with the sort of elevator drone instrumentals of Mirror’s Edge and The Crystal World.  Moon Duo heads more towards ambient Euro-kraut rock than ballsy psychedelia.  And since Volume 2 is considerably shorter at 37 minutes to 49 minutes, well, you’ll just have to give it a listen.

This is a band that, after a half a dozen albums or so, is becoming a bit limited with the creativity factor in their drones.  Whether it’s because the drum machines and their same cadence or the twinkly keyboards pinching and punching their way in and out of the droning guitar, I’m just scratching my head at the dully executed final track, The Crystal World. The band could benefit from a real drummer consistenly spicing up this sound, and just a more heavy psych mix in general.  The last track just sounds like a romp through a bad science-fiction movie about cuddly space animals that only show up on holidays. Space Holidays. I didn't hear this on Volume 1.

The dark heavy elements of Cult of Moloch and The Death Set from Volume 1 are missing from this companion work.  If they intended Volume 2 to be a sort of wind down to the previous effort, well, OK.

Instead it sounds like byproducts cobbled together, with little of the thoughtful richness of the tracks from Volume 1.

It’s not to say Volume 2 doesn’t have a couple decent tracks.  And frankly, only a couple. New Dawn is a fairly nice kick-off track and is not that dissimilar to the opening track on the previous album, but the only other interesting track of the five songs is Lost in Light, that is by far the most ambitious track and takes the listener on a joyous droning space romp that qualifies as the sound I enjoy most from this band.  It’s not an empty repetitive instrumental and has some nice vocals that soar right along with the music, with enough layers of noise to take it up several notches from the other 4 tracks.

Quickly capitalizing on the success of perhaps their best effort, Occult Architecture Volume 1, might have been a good thing, if Moon Duo would have had enough strong tracks here.  Unfortunately, Volume 2 did not.

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