By: Martyn Coppack
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Released on March 2, 2015 via Sacred Bones Records
On first listen you could be forgiven for thinking that it was more of the same from Moon Duo on their new album Shadow of the Sun. Once again we get the requisite droned out sound that envelopes all their previous songs and it is often difficult to discern when one song finishes and another starts. It soon becomes obvious that there is much more at work here and as the album unfolds on multiple listens it becomes clear that this is actually their master-work and easily the peak of their career so far.
And what of the career? Forever branded as an offshoot of Wooden Shjips, Moon Duo could now lay a claim to being more popular than that band and have a much larger work ethic. Indeed, it is quite stunning to think of the level of workmanship that goes into both bands’ music and we should be glad that we are lucky to have both.
What separates this album from the others is a dark, dance feel that fills the songs. ‘Wilding’ may be the typical droned out epic opener but ‘Night Beat’ is a much more electronic affair with one eye firmly one the dance floor. It is the embracing of these sounds that open the music into new territory and by ‘Free The Skull’ there is a fantastic mix of old and new that really kicks the album into gear.
There’s something akin to Yeah Yeah Yeahs when they went disco on here, although nowhere near as day-glo in your face. Instead this album owes a debt to the darker post punk disco of the likes of Depeche Mode and early New Order, giving it a timeless feel. ‘Zero’ is the apex of this with its chiming synth and rattling bass bringing to mind those early days of both bands.
Of course the drone keeps the whole thing flowing but nothing quite prepares you for the beautiful ‘In A Cloud’ which is the one song that sounds like it could have come from the last Wooden Shjips album. A delicate ballad full of sunblissed vocals, it marks a turning point for Moon Duo and really serves as the centre-point of this album.
The album’s other high point (and if we’re being honest, the whole album is a high) is the brilliant ‘Ice’ which channels the sound of high energy disco and turns it into a psychedelic rave anthem. If you thought ‘Mazes’ was good, wait ’til you get a load of this with its throbbing synths and trance-like rhythm. It begs to be played loud and it’s hard not to reach for that dial when it kicks in.
Shadow of the Sun is the best release so far from Moon Duo and it is one that is destined to turn them into overground stars. In a year full of exciting prospects in the psych world, with Lucid Dream already upping the ante, Moon Duo have set the bar that little higher and with the slight change in sound ensured that their future is wide open. An absolute triumph and one that is going to feature on many end of year lists when the time comes.