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Shadow Of The Sun

Moon Duo were initially conceived as a side project for Ripley Johnson of San Francisco garage-psych juggernauts Wooden Shjips, foraying outside the swampy, distorted rock 'n' roll haze for which that group became known. Instead they are focusing on the more electronic, repetitive strain of psychedelia originally blueprinted by the likes of Suicide and German krautrock pioneers Can and Cluster - otherworldly, mesmerising music drawing heavily on minimalist tradition. Shadow Of The Sun, brought to our ears by beloved Brooklyn indie label Sacred Bones,is Moon Duo's third album to date and also their best, the purest distillation yet of both those influences and the Duo's previous output.

Far more so than Wooden Shjips, Moon Duo often allow Sanae Yamada's keyboards to take a dominant role, with Johnson's guitar noodling along behind freely and the reverberating vocals of both members winding and melting together, producing some beautiful results. On many of these tracks - standout cut 'Free the Skull', for example - Johnson and Yamada lock into a languid groove and build lush arrangements around it for up to seven minutes, while at other times, particularly on the tracks bookending the album ('Wilding' and early single 'Animal'), driving ahead more dynamically and effusively.

Characteristically, there are not really any verses or choruses anywhere to be found here. Structurally, there is a certain loose, almost improv feel to several of these songs, but Moon Duo never try their audience's patience by cramming too much in or aimlessly meandering. In fact, there is a certain vital conciseness of songwriting throughout Shadow of the Sun, a clear pop sensibility and an affability sometimes lacking in music like this which keeps the record engaging at all times.

Thomas Sprackland

by Now Then Manchester