Moon Duo – Circles
Moon Duo’s debut Mazes invited its listeners to get lost in a sonic labyrinth of stargazing krautrock jams. The title of successor Circles evokes a simpler form of immersion, a single line without beginning or end, emblematic of the way the San Franciscan couple’s songs repeat and revolve around minimal components.
These propulsive compositions often sound like they could go on forever, but Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada are disciplined explorers, testing their horizons but keeping their feet on terra firma and instinctively knowing when to wind down each workout.
There’s a structural certainty to Circles: without exception, the pace and tone established in a track’s opening seconds is carried through to its final moments, a clarity that prevents their psych-adventures from growing overly outré or indulgent. Locomotive rhythms and chugging guitars form an incessant base, while other textures eddy in and out to supply spark, from Johnson’s shamanic vocals and distorted soloing to Yamada’s intoxicating organ playing.
Sometimes, the results are light-footed, like the sprightly title track, and sometimes unapologetically droning, like the closing Rolling Out. As the latter fades from speakers, the urge to close the circle by re-hitting play and taking in another spin is firmly felt. [Chris Buckle]