Moon Duo, who are actually nowadays a trio since the addition of live drummer John Jeffrey, do what they do well, but it’s the fact they keep doing it, and doing it, and doing it, seemingly getting louder and louder each circuit, that makes it feel as if they’re boring into your skull. For fans of course, this is bliss, but anyone expecting a guitar solo, between song banter or even a fourth chord will leave grumpy.
At The Haunt – the same venue they played two years ago (probably to 90% of the same crowd) – Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada dispatched songs from their latest album, Shadow Of The Sun, with their heads down and bobbing. Samples of disembodied voices served to fill the gaps between tracks, while Jeffrey kept rhythm.
And what a rhythm to keep! Moon Duo’s music depends on a metronomic sense of timing, so much so that their first two albums were created with a drum machine. It’s a brave man that takes the kit behind them, but throughout, he was robotic and hypnotic. Yamada played her rack of keyboards effects pedals in a reverie, and the bearded Johnson’s res-o-glass Airline guitar – way cooler in ice white than Jack White’s trademark red version – was one of the more captivating sights on the stage.
Moon Duo were at their best when they were harmonising with each other – in fact, any time Yamada took the mic the sound was boosted dramatically. But these moments were few and far between. And while on record, the live drums take the group into more rocky territory, live they provide a kind of soul, filling the breaks between drones with something approaching the human.
Ultimately this was a night for the hardcore, allowing them to swing aimlessly or nod determinedly. The constantly shifting sound moved from the initial burst of recognition of songs, then off into other shapes and sheets of noise. Was that The Knack we heard? Or Spiritualized, or even 2 Unlimited? God knows, but it was certainly disconcerting. All in a good way, of course.
Moon Duo, The Haunt, Thursday 9th April 2015
Photos by Jon Southcoasting