Moon Duo

Moon Duo


Moon Duo would most likely fill a larger venue, which makes tonight’s album launch even more special – those lucky enough to gain entry to this sold-out show get to experience the band in this intimate space, with it’s low ceiling and incredibly loud and clear sound system. Whatever comes at us through those speakers is bound to blow our socks off.

Horrid support – the Manchester ‘super group’ are an appropriate warm-up act tonight, offering a darker, rockier blend of psych drone, all performed while wearing potato sacks on their heads. I saw them not so long ago in support of Nisennenmondai at Soup Kitchen, and their set once again impresses both myself and the already healthy looking crowd.

As previously hoped, they have indeed become a little scarier since the last time. It’s as though they’ve taken ‘Yama’ by Dead Skeletons, and run with it. The relentless pounding beats and repetitive basslines pummel you into submission, while the guitarists and keys player add sinister, ear-shredding sonic shrieks, that test the sound system to the max. The noise couldn’t possibly be any louder, always on the verge of melting our brains, stopping just short of feedback. There’s no escape – the band members wail into their microphones and then dance playfully along to the deep groove, as if relishing a torture session.

The spellbinding and haunting images of watching them perform will stay long in the memory, as will the beat and basslines. And tinnitus… they gave me tinnitus. The crowd also loved it.

We’re here tonight for the launch of their 3rd album Shadow Of The Sun. Gladly, Moon Duo are mask-less, and all together a lot more pleasant to look at. Wooden Shjips guitarist Ripley Johnson is largely hidden behind a pillar, possibly to avoid the glare from the red and white projected images that illuminate the stage. It’s a shame, because he has an awesome beard and possibly the coolest guitar I’ve ever seen.

Keys player Sanae Yamada is less shy, shaking from side to side and throwing her long dark hair around in an alluring manner, while teasing uplifting spacial sounds from her stack of keyboards. The duo are joined onstage by drummer John Jeffrey, whose efforts must be applauded, managing to impressively maintain the relentless beats for extended periods of time. The drum machine that he’s replaced won’t be missed – he adds depth and flavour to the rhythm with occasional minor variations that become noticeable at choice moments.

Moon Duo

Moon Duo

What do you call it… psychedelic space drone, maybe? Spacemen 3/White Hills/Follakzoid… it’s very danceable, anyhow. Notes are used sparingly, and the repetition of their skilfully crafted sound wriggles in through your ears and down to your toes, resulting in… getting down. The symptoms are more obvious in some than others – one guy managed to clear a space either side of him by erratically side-stepping to the beat, flailing his arms about, with his eyes closed. At times, it resembles a night club in here, but with a much higher average age.

I’ve tried my best with the setlist. Most of the lyrics seem to contain the word ‘sun’, or discuss the sky and things that can be found in it. New tune ‘Wilding’ start’s us off – two organ notes are played alternately throughout, copied simultaneously for most part by a fuzzy, reverb heavy guitar sound. Both of the original duo’s vocals are softly spoken and barely audible, but it really works.

My entry for ‘Wacky comparison of the year’ – they occasionally sound like a surf version of Arcade Fire. Next paragraph.

I’m a big fan of 3/4 time signatures, and so ‘Thieves’ is an instant hit. ‘Animal’ up’s the tempo and of course, there’s ‘Sleepwalker’. Other song’s of note possibly contain the following lyrics: “Tonight”… “Yeah”… “I need to know” (and maybe something about Buddha?)… “cavalcade”… “sun”? The mood of the vocal style and the words, whatever they may be, carry the tunes to dizzier heights.

If a song really impresses me, I add a + sign next to it in my notepad. 2/3rds of the songs achieved this prestigious accolade, tonight. If overheard discussions after the show had finished, and the queue at the merch stall are anything to go by, the  unanimous conclusion is… that was a great gig. The new album has more depth, possibly through the use of a live drummer in the studio. The result is possibly their best work to date.

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Peter Rea

I like to go see fresh new music at Manchester's superb selection of smaller venues, and then share my enthusiasm.