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MOON DUO

Moon Duo

Escape - Expanded Edition

    To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Moon Duo’s long-out-of-print debut LP Escape, Sacred Bones is proud to present a new deluxe version of the album. The new reissue will include the original album in its entirety, plus three additional rare tracks taken from Moon Duo’s wild early days. Reflecting on the album in March 2020, the band shared the following statement:

    “We made this record in a rehearsal space in San Francisco in late 2009. It was kind of a classic band space, shared by a rangy assortment of musicians over months and years, behind one of several similar doors in a dark red hall. A windowless room lit by string lights and an odd assortment of lamps, the walls a palimpsest of posters and gig fliers. There was a grimy, burn-pocked rug, cluttered gear in various stages of use and abandonment, and the air seemed to hang in a permanent film of smoke residue and stale beer. We recorded to a 4-track tape machine over the course of a few nights - we’d just start the beats, hit ‘record’ and let fly. We had a vague sense of coalescence, or fomentation, like a glimpse of a thing in outline which you can’t yet see, but neither of us knew at the time that this was the record that would mark the beginning of our life as a touring band and would initiate our connections to so many (now long-time) friends, familiars and collaborators. Ten years feels like both a lifetime and the blink of an eye - measurable but impossible to quantify. These four tracks, and the others that join them here, are a snapshot of our earliest incarnation: flying blind, but high on the freedom of experimentation and filled with hope for things to come.”

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Pink vinyl edition.

    Stars Are the Light, the luminous seventh album by the American psych explorers Moon Duo, marks a progression into significantly new territory. From a preoccupation with the transcendental and occult that informed Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada’s guitar-driven psych rock, and reached its apotheosis in the acclaimed Occult Architecture diptych, Stars Are the Light sees the band synthesize the abstract and metaphysical with the embodied and terrestrial.

    Branching out from Occult Architecture Vol. 2, the album has a sonic physicality that is at once propulsive and undulating; it puts dance at the heart of an expansive nexus that connects the body to the stars. These are songs about embodied human experience — love, change, misunderstanding, internal struggle, joy, misery, alienation, discord, harmony, celebration — rendered as a kind of dance of the self, both in relation to other selves and to the eternal dance of the cosmos.

    Taking disco as its groove-oriented departure point, Stars Are the Light shimmers with elements of ’70s funk and ’90s rave. Johnson’s signature guitar sound is at its most languid and refined, while Yamada’s synths and oneiric vocals are foregrounded to create a spacious percussiveness that invites the body to move with its mesmeric rhythms. With Sonic Boom (Spacemen 3, Spectrum) at the mixing desk in Portugal’s Serra de Sintra, (known to the Romans as “The Mountains of the Moon”) the area’s lush landscape and powerful lunar energies exerted a strong influence on the vibe and sonic texture of the album.

    On embracing disco as an inspiration, Yamada says, “It’s something we hadn’t referenced in our music before, but its core concepts really align with what we were circling around as we made the album. Disco is dance music, first and foremost, and we were digging our way into the idea of this endless dance of bodies in nature. We were also very inspired by the space and community of a disco – a space of free self-expression through dance, fashion, and mode of being; where everyone was welcome, diversity was celebrated, and identity could be fluid; where the life force that animates each of us differently could flower.”

    STAFF COMMENTS

    says: Formed in 2009 by Wooden Shjips' main man Ripley Johnson and his wife Sanae Yamada, Moon Duo had been chugging along quite nicely until 2017's two records in a month opus (‘Occult Architecture’ Volumes 1 and 2) signalled a slight detour, but here we are a further two years hence at a veritable fork in the road. Moon Duo now groove! Not rockin' grooves like Hawkwind of old (very cool still, obviously), but proper, disco and funk inspired, pitter-pattering grooves like Peaking Lights. Helped in no small part by Spacemen 3's Sonic Boom, a lot of the sounds here do actually recall the late 90s UK post rave scene in their blissed out, bubbling buoyancy and hippie, repetitive, lose yourself in nature vibes. This record glides! Synths are further to the fore but Ripley's ever evolving infinite ether guitar flickers and dances around them to maximum effect. Apart from one throbbing song which is a throwback to their previous records (“Eye 2 Eye”) this albums glows with a kind of contained euphoria, languid and laid back, looping and luscious. The beats here are never obtrusive, it still sounds exactly like them, but them that's swapped pot for ecstasy, a couch for a field! There has been the sneaking suspicion, of late, that Ripley Johnson was squirelling his better songs away to this, his so-called band on the side, and now, finally, with ‘Stars Are The Light’, the proof is in the pudding; he does! It's a majestic record.

    Moon Duo

    Occult Architecture Vol.2

    Meaning all things magick and supernatural, the root of the word occult is that which is hidden, concealed, beyond the limits of our minds. If this is occult, then the Occult Architecture of Moon Duo’s fourth album - a psychedelic opus in two separate volumes released in 2017 is an intricately woven hymn to the invisible structures found in the cycle of seasons and the journey of day into night, dark into light.

    Offering a cosmic glimpse into the hidden patterning embedded in everything, Occult Architecture reflects the harmonious duality of these light and dark energies through the Chinese theory of Yin and Yang.

    Following the Yin (feminine, darkness, night, earth) represented on Occult Architecture Vol. 1, Vol. 2 presents the Yang. Yang means “the bright side of the hill” and is associated with the male, sun, light and the spirit of heaven, and as such Vol. 2 explores the light and airy elements of Moon Duo’s complex psyche.

    “In production we referred to Vol. 1 as the fuzz dungeon, and Vol. 2 as the crystal palace,” guitarist Ripley Johnson explains. “The darkness of Vol. 1 gave birth to the light of Vol. 2. We had to have both elements in order to complete the cycle. We’re releasing them separately to allow them their own space, and to ensure clarity of vision. To that end we also mixed Vol. 2 separately, in the height of Portland summer, focusing on its sonic qualities of lightness, air, and sun. Listeners can ultimately use the two volumes individually or together, depending on circumstance or the desired effect.”

    Vol. 2 was mixed in Portland by the band’s longtime collaborator Jonas Verwijnen

    STAFF COMMENTS

    says: If you haven't heard of Moon Duo already, where have you been? This is the second (and equally excellent) album they have put out in 3 months! Driven psychedelic haze, hypnotic distortion and ethereal vocals, pushed together into a perfect combination of melody and drive. How do they keep doing it?

    San Francisco’s Moon Duo was formed in 2009 by Sanae Yamada and Ripley Johnson (Wooden Shjips). Inspired initially by the legendary John Coltrane and Rashied Ali, Moon Duo counts such variant groups as Silver Apples, Royal Trux, Moolah, Suicide, and Cluster as touchstones. Utilizing primarily guitar, keyboards, percussion, and vocals, the pair plays space against form to create a primordial and disorienting sonic stew. They released two acclaimed records in 2009: the "Love On The Sea" 12-inch single on Sick Thirst and the "Killing Time" EP on Sacred Bones.

    "Escape", their debut long-player on Woodsist, marks the fullest realization yet of the young group’s evolving sound. 'Moon Duo are the combined forces of Wooden Shjips’ Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada, and following a couple of singles this year, they’re releasing a debut full-length on Woodsist in 2010. "Stumbling 22nd St.", a gauzy, lo-fi rock number built on a repetitive riff, goes on for nearly seven minutes and presents a pretty epic introduction to this band'.  - Pitchfork.


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