Moon Duo | Heaven | 17 March 2017
The effect is hypnotic. Even from the back of Heaven, standing next to someone who can’t stop burping pepperoni, your view obscured by what appears to be the AGM of London’s Tallest Men Society, it’s impossible not to be mesmerised by the sound and light coming from the other end of the hangar-sized venue.
Performing in silhouette against a backdrop of ever-changing kaleidoscopic technicolor psychedelic visuals, guitarist Ripley Johnson, keyboard player Sanae Yamada, and live drummer John Jeffrey provide a fully immersive audio-visual experience. A trip, without the acid.
Yet, despite the brightness of the backdrop, the musicians onstage devote much of their set to new “dark side of the hill” album ‘Occult Architecture Volume 1’. Embracing and embodying Moon Duo’s darker qualities, the moody ‘The Death Set’, ‘Cold Fear’, ‘Creepin’’, and ‘White Rose’ are played back to back, immediately setting the tone for an enthralling performance. Metronomic beats and cyclical rhythms create a canvas that Johnson and Yamada decorate with their hushed vocals and the sonic textures they eke out of effects pedals and synth stacks respectively.
Initially, it all seems rather improvisational. But it’s not long before you realise that all the swirling elements – whether it’s a buzzing guitar solo, six-string wall of fuzz, ‘70s prog-rock keyboard breakdown, or a tinkly ‘80s synthpop melody – complement each other perfectly. Within seconds of beginning a new song, the three musicians lock in to a groove and begin demonstrating the mind-altering effect of repetition.
Older songs – like the droning ‘Free The Skull’, inspired reimagination of southern rock ‘I Been Gone’, and spacey ‘Thieves’ – have a similar effect, while also showing Moon Duo’s lighter side, before the apocalyptic epic ‘Cult Of Moloch’ lets the darkness back in. But that’s no way to end a Friday night, so they send everyone out into the weekend with a surprising, but invigorating, take on The Stooges’ ‘No Fun’ that certainly does the trick.