Moon Duo - Live In Ravenna [VINYL]

by Rob Taylor Rating:9.5 Release Date:2014-09-01

In small-town Virginia the other day, I was told by my wife’s cousin, and our host, that his neighbour’s 12-year-old shoots crossbows at a polystyrene dear to prepare for hunting season. I felt a little uneasy with the imagery, and the approaching implication, but my disquiet was more intellectual and less visceral. I should have remembered that scene from National Lampoon’s Vacation when Chevy Chase and family were visiting their southern cousins, and just had a laugh.

 

Being a wild animal within target range is exactly how I feel listening to the mesmeric music Moon Duo write and play. Their latest, Live in Ravenna, showcases unadulterated live performances of their extended psych dirges, taken from shows across Europe. It's available on vinyl, and I’d hop onto their website and grab one before they become extinct, like the wildlife in Virginia.

 

The 40 minutes chug-along at cruising speed with subtle and not-so-subtle variations, showing the kind of thematic development associated with great Krautrockers like Can, plus some wonderfully dishevelled guitar work. The underlying warmth and hum of the keyboards is both comforting and exciting, the well-judged chord changes creating moments of near ecstatic delivery.  

 

When I (sort of) gave up raving about three ears ago, I never believed that I could emulate the physical high of those experiences, but Moon Duo have helped me come close over the last two years. Circles was in my top five albums of 2012.

 

While listening to Live in Ravenna, I wanted to lock myself away from my US travels, swig a few microbrews, sneak a few cheeky fags, and dance around by myself to its head music, at least in my thoughts, for its duration. You know, like simulated nightclubbing - my more modern answer to air guitar, and in my distorted belief system, far less embarrassing. Moon Duo do exactly that for me, far more than just finding superlatives for the sum of its parts. This is music both for the soul, and for your next late-night party.

 

Live, Moon Duo excel because their brand of freakonomic musical wizardry is predicated upon spontaneity. Ridley Johnson and Sanae Yamada (with the addition of John Jeffrey on the drums) play with structure and a great sense of dynamics.

 

There’s the groove of opener 'In the Sun', and the heart-juddering percussion thumps, shakes and rattles of 'Free Action', where the rhythm propels forward like an audio track of the Voyager launch. Bone-rattling stuff, and bloody brilliant. Then there’s the fuzzed licks of 'I’ve Been Gone', the poppiest offering, I’d say, and a nod to Suicide. There’s no let up for the entirety.

 

Trance without chemical augmentation. Hot sauce for the brain.

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