Circles by Moon Duo on Apple Music

11 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

The first two Moon Duo releases were casual affairs that succeeded, at least in part, because Wooden Shjips’ Erik Johnson and keyboardist Sanae Yamada adopted a relaxed, low-stakes approach to music-making. This seemed to encourage instrumental spontaneity and musical exploration, blending the simplest of rock 'n' roll chord progressions with the metronomic pulse of Krautrock and extended guitar excursions. On Circles, Moon Duo continues to employ these techniques, but its approach is decidedly more rigorous and its songwriting and production are more polished. Circles is unquestionably Moon Duo’s most accomplished album to date, though it lacks some of the gleeful impulsiveness that made earlier efforts like Escape and Mazes such a pleasure to listen to. That’s not to say that Moon Duo’s newfound seriousness hasn’t brought its own share of rewards; the propulsive “Sleepwalker," for instance, might be its most fully realized song to date, while the album’s title track is an imminently danceable marriage of the barbed noise pop of ‘80s acts like Spacemen 3 and the experimentations of early electronic pioneers like The Silver Apples.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The first two Moon Duo releases were casual affairs that succeeded, at least in part, because Wooden Shjips’ Erik Johnson and keyboardist Sanae Yamada adopted a relaxed, low-stakes approach to music-making. This seemed to encourage instrumental spontaneity and musical exploration, blending the simplest of rock 'n' roll chord progressions with the metronomic pulse of Krautrock and extended guitar excursions. On Circles, Moon Duo continues to employ these techniques, but its approach is decidedly more rigorous and its songwriting and production are more polished. Circles is unquestionably Moon Duo’s most accomplished album to date, though it lacks some of the gleeful impulsiveness that made earlier efforts like Escape and Mazes such a pleasure to listen to. That’s not to say that Moon Duo’s newfound seriousness hasn’t brought its own share of rewards; the propulsive “Sleepwalker," for instance, might be its most fully realized song to date, while the album’s title track is an imminently danceable marriage of the barbed noise pop of ‘80s acts like Spacemen 3 and the experimentations of early electronic pioneers like The Silver Apples.

TITLE TIME
4:55
4:44
3:45
4:10
3:31
4:28
5:35
4:33
8:14
6:12
21:42

About Moon Duo

A project of Wooden Shjips' Erik "Ripley" Johnson and Sanae Yamada, San Francisco's Moon Duo are a psychedelic Krautrock band with chilly electronic underpinnings and drones inspired by Spacemen 3, Silver Apples, and Suicide. The group formed in 2009 and began issuing releases in short order, including the Love on the Sea 12" on Sick Thirst, which they followed with the Killing Time EP on Sacred Bones. Moon Duo made the jump to Woodsist for 2010's full-length Escape, which offered the most expansive and melodic take on their trippy sounds yet. After touring nearly incessantly following that release, Moon Duo moved their operation to the Souterrain Transmissions imprint in Berlin for Mazes later in the year, recording the set at home in San Francisco and mixing it in Germany. The album, released in the spring of 2011, followed widely acclaimed performances at SXSW; the band's sound on that record focused more on tightly written (and brightly produced) songs with fixed drum machine-made motorik rhythms. The set also got the remix treatment later in the year with participation from Psychic Ills, Purling Hiss, and Sonic Boom, to name a few.

The band's next full-length, Circles, appeared in the fall of 2012 on Sacred Bones, and was accompanied by a remix album (Circles Remixed) the following year with the album's tracks reworked by artists like Eric Copeland and Umberto. The band's release of stopgap material continued in 2014 with the live album Live in Ravenna, which featured drummer John Jeffrey. After moving their home base to Portland and with Jeffrey on board, the trio began recording its next album in a self-described dark basement. Mixed again in Germany by Jonas Verwijnen, 2015's Shadow of the Sun was the group's densest, most psychedelic record to date. At the end of the year, the band embarked on a lengthy European tour, then returned again in 2016 for more dates. When back home in Portland, they began work on their next album, both at home and at the Type Foundry. Occult Architecture, Vol. 1 was released in early 2017, with a second volume to follow. The first volume was intended to represent yin and the second volume yang, in an effort to explore both light and darkness within their sound. ~ Heather Phares

  • ORIGIN
    San Francisco, CA
  • FORMED
    2009

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