Please check out Verity Credit Union, our great partner in the 100 Bands in 100 Days local music showcase.
Music fans of the Pacific Northwest, get ready for our fourth annual year-end daily local music showcase, 100 Bands in 100 Days, where every day until December 31st, we’re showcasing a new band or artist you have to know about, presented by Verity Credit Union. Make sure you are checking the #100Bands100Days hashtag at Twitter on the daily to stay on top of all the bands featured and make sure to follow Verity on Twitter and NW_Music_Scene as well. Some days the featured act could be an established and locally-adored northwest-based musician and other times they could be a band with a small following that just hasn’t had their deserved time in the sun yet. Either way, we’re fairly confident you can come away from this daily segment with plenty of new favorites. Today’s featured artist is Moon Duo.
In May of this year we reviewed both Volume 1 and Volume 2 of the Occult Architecture series by Moon Duo. Let’s revisit the two releases shall we?
Here’s some of what we said about the first EP in our review:
Occult Architecture Vol. 1 engines dark power with an affinity for sinister themes and action. Opener “The Death Set” is black leather and cigarettes; pure bad boy imagery soundtracked by hypnotic drums and scuzzy guitar riffs. “Creepin” clutches your collar and gaze in a similar way, while “Cross-Town Fade” ripe, shady blues filling, is latticed in a dense crust of Moon Duo’s (Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada) patented psychedelic additives.
As part of a two-volume set with a focus on Yin/Yang and the seasonal shifts, Vol. 1 is certainly aligned with winter’s Yin landscapes. “Cold Fear” has the frigid, clinical feel of a dank hospital corridor with flickering, low-power lights. “Will of the Devil” moves enigmatically with a repeating keyboard melody. The snapping percussion and breathy vocals hint towards darkness or the unknown, while spring’s bloom is proposed by colorful and cheerful instrumental choruses which are vibrantly painted until the digital scattering muddies the canvas and twizzles it to an icy end.
Amid the darkening effects knitted into Vol. 1, Johnson and keyboardist Yamada are still free to explore. The cathartic equipping of space guitars, muffled vocals, and monochromatic drumming on “Cult of Moloch” allows wandering guitar jams to ebb and flow all around. When they drop the weight of the drums and knob the guitars to 11, the vocals emerge with clarity and ignite the remaining bits with dynamics not usually linked to Moon Duo’s crank-it-and-go aesthetic.
And we had this to say about Part 2
Not a dramatic departure in overall Moon Duo ethos, Vol. 2 does sweeten their sound and mood. Intended to uncover the Chinese theory of Yang and its role on life, Johnson and Yamada celebrate this balancing presence with ease. “New Dawn” trips on a disconnected smattering of keys and flowers into a bold, warm meditative guitar-fuzzed pop song. “Mirror’s Edge,” easily the catchiest of all the songs on both volumes, is selling a slightly different narrative. Instead of minimal bends and curves, Johnson and Yamada establish a deep grooving drum pattern, nimble scratching cymbal work, and incredibly patient guitar and bouncy bass lines to clap along with. This isn’t a straight ahead rocking anthem; it’s a river meandering.
The aptly-titled “Lost in Light” is fleshed to have the makings of a transcendental pilgrimage rock song. It guides in the gentle ways, never pushing or forcing. The vocals are as uplifting as anything Moon Duo has previously recorded. In a similar manner, “The Crystal World” is an exploration in a myriad of systems and spiritual nuance. The instrumental focus reveals a glimpse at the hidden possibilities surrounding us.
While Vol. 2 showcases Moon Duo easily flagging down the brighter side of hill, their defined sound and knack for inhabiting rock and roll’s dangerous-sounding DNA has not waned, simply shifted. Vol. 2 exposes cleaner guitar solos and softer channeled energy. It tips towards light, not dark vibes. This is not a soundtrack fit for the seedy cities and suspicious corners in which Vol. 1 could slip. Occult Architecture Vol. 2 tones back the perceived aggression and grit for a calmer, sweeter sundrenched experience. On Occult Architecture Vol. 1and 2, Moon Duo delivers a unifying collection of songs. Paired together, Occult Architecture is a testament to our journeys where everything belongs.
A huge shoutout to Verity Credit Union for doing so much for the music community and for being such a great partner.