There is something silly about the music of Moon Duo. As President Trump and his rubes run rough-shod over the Constitution, am I really supposed to get worked up about a Portland, Oregon duo play-acting at making Satanic music? Can the work of a couple of proto-goths really get anyone spooked in an era when just reading the news sends chills down the spine on a daily basis? All that said, these two are quite good at this sort of thing and, sure, the comically-named Occult Architecture Vol. 1 does sound pretty cool in spots. It's just that I would have cared a whole lot more about this sort of thing when I was 19, you know?
Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada make up Moon Duo. Their music is Evil Heat-era Primal Scream throb ("Cold Fear") mixed with a trace of Seventies Iggy ("Creepin'"). At their best, they manage to evoke something sinister ("Cult of Moloch") that's rarely found this side of a Non album, or perhaps an old Sisters of Mercy record ("Will of the Devil"). At their very best, they very briefly transcend the silliness of this entire premise in order to get at something genuinely affecting, like opener "The Death Set" with its nods in the direction of early Loop sides. The epic "White Rose" manages to reference a peer of those Loop shoegazers with its Spiritualized-like hook, stretched to the breaking point over the course of 10 minutes.
Look, if you're driving alone late at night and want to pretend that sinister forces are chasing you, or that you're part of the criminal element from a David Lynch film, you're going to love spinning Occult Architecture Vol. 1 on your car stereo. Just don't take this too seriously as I have a hunch that the 2 players aren't either.
[Photo: Howard Wise, post-art by Jasmine Pasquill]