Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Doors of Perception



"It feels as
if the doors
have been
flung wide



I expected good things from Moon Duo's first full-length bas-
ed on previous EPs and this year's outstanding single "When
You Cut," but the new album has surpassed my expectations.

Though their influences have always been fairly obvious, Mazes
reveals more of their own unique personality. Their inspirations
haven't changed, but they bring a greater degree of warmth than
before. There's something surprisingly organic about these mot-
orik rhythms, even if "motorik" usually implies coldness (now
based in Colorado, they recorded in the Bay Area and Berlin).

I think it's partly that Ripley's vocals, though low in the mix, aren't
robotic or machine-like. Nor does he sound as agitated as Alan Ve-
ga or Sonic Boom, yet Moon Duo avoid the hippie-dippy trap of
sounding like '60s (or '70s) throwbacks. There's a freshness here.

As for influences, Ripley Johnson (guitar, vocals) and Sanae Ya-
mada (keyboards) may look to artists other than Neu!, Suicide,
Spacemen 3, Loop, etc., but those are the acts they bring to mind.

They may have a different set of influences, or no specific in-
fluences at all, but anyone who enjoys the spacier end of the
rock spectrum will surely find Mazes of interest, especially
those who appreciate song craft, because they have a grasp
on melody that some other outer-space travelers lack.

There's nothing wrong with a time-expanding jam here and
there, but that sort of thing bores me after awhile. I say it all
the time, but I need songs. Verse, chorus, verse. The whole bit.

"When You Cut" and "Run Around" are so upbeat they transcend
the Krautrock tag; the first by using dance beats, the second by a-
dopting a rockabilly rhythm, indicating that Moon Duo's influenc-
es are probably more diverse than a cursory listen would suggest.

I particularly like the way the record starts in semi-dark mode,
with "Seer," before lighting off, as it were, into brighter territory,
ending with "Goners," which is hardly as morose as it sounds. In
"Cut," Ripley sings, "I feel the walls closing in one me." It doesn't
sound like an ideal situation, but there's the sense that he wel-
comes it in some way. A little darkness never hurt anyone.

Endnote: Image from Covert Curiosity.


Jean-Luc Garbo said...

I'm glad you mentioned Alan Vega and motorik because those two also came to my mind. For me, the album was so memorable because of the drumming. I really liked this one.

kathy fennessy said...

Thanks so much for your comment. I liked "Escape," but it felt like something was missing. I fell in love with "Mazes" right from the start.