Moon Duo - Mazes

by Steve Reynolds Rating:7 Release Date:2011-03-29

Moon Duo is the brainchild of Ripley Johnson of Wooden Shjips and Sanae Yamada and came to fruition in San Francisco in 2009. This is their second full-length album and their first on Souterrain Transmissions. Pulling together a mix of influences they sit very much in the psychedelic distortion, heavy guitar and 60s spaced-out, keyboard/organ sounds camp.

This is no more than evident on Loop-inspired opener 'Seer' which is resplendent in fuzz, with crashing guitar, hazy keyboard and some kind of water torture based riff which bounces around the cranium. It's simply like enduring a post drug comedown. There are other references from the past musically and the sound of Krautrock balanced against the primitive drums and guitar drone on title track 'Mazes' makes for an interesting juxtaposition against the intensity of the album's opener. There are slices of Royal Trux and Jesus & Mary Chain mournfulness on 'Scars' with its simplistic musical arrangement and bingo related organ refrain and it certainly mixes up the variety of the first three songs on the album.

However, they can't help but chase the fuzz and distortion again on 'Fallout' with its incessant blissed-out guitar riffs and motorik drum patterns. Usually on an album you wouldn't be so bold as to put two direct opposite types of songs together but 'When You Cut' focuses on an insular keyboard ditty and washes away the brashness of the guitar as what sounds like a revving motorbike hangs around and becomes it's main focal point.

Their output is repetitive but catchy and although they don't use a plethora of instruments, Moon Duo are a band which sits comfortably in its own skin and compositions. 'Run Around' chugs along at a fair old rate and casts its rod firmly in prog rock with a monumental guitar wig out while their Wurlitzer type sound raises its head again on 'In the Sun', thrown into a maelstrom haze of distortion, reverb and stoner rock. Closer 'Goner' is more My Bloody Valentine-like, patched together with a wall of shoegazing pedal stomping.

Mazes doesn't demonstrate a new musical vanguard but, taken at face value, it's more than worthy of your time and ear-drums.

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