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“DD Review: Moon Duo – Occult Architecture Vol. 1/Occult Architecture Vol. 2.”

Score: 8.5/10

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Wow, never have I been less ashamed for being eight months late on reviewing an album. The reasons, for that matter, aren’t what you think. According to Pop Matters, Portland “Duo”-de-la-“Moon” concocted this two-LP project dichotomously, the first installment known to them as the “fuzz dungeon,” the second the “crystal palace.” Well, seeing as how they put Vol. 2 out in May which typically calls for songs like Smash Mouth’s “All Star,” Len’s “Steal My Sunshine” and maybe Spacehog’s “In the Meantime”… you know… BRIGHT numbers, they apparently had the right IDEA. But the devil fools with the best laid plans and indeed the only optimistic-sounding song, if you will on this album tandem, “Mirror’s Edge,” is also probably the only bad one. It’s like Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada, in mustering their one tiny cog of sunshine, flowers-inyour-hair sentiment, couldn’t in this right develop a whole SONG, despite their noblest intentions, but rather sort of like the Tootsie Toll in the middle of the song Tootsie Pop. Well, as we all know, no one eats Tootsie Rolls.
At their hearts, these two albums are almost identical, save for Vol. 2’s drastic augmentation in length per song: they both trot out a very hip modus operandi of dark indie rock, not TOO dissimilar to fellow DD darling Mhostly Ghostly, for that matter. Where the latter’s Jeremy Bias always stalks the soundscape with effects as autonomous assailant, Moon Duo’s calling, hence positioning them as a far different sort of band (less garage-y, approximately), is to create the entire soundscape digitally as a single, compressed whole, one behooved, in what is arguably still an age of lo-fi (though no one can truly be sure), by the band’s talent in flattening and fuzzing the separate tracks down to where you can’t really even tell if a particular sound might be a guitar, a synth, or a bass. It’s just… rock. And it does rock, indeed.
Really, I can’t emphasize enough: a person’s decision of which of these two LP’s to listen to could easily and justly come down to a coin flip, but he or she wouldn’t go wrong with either one. Vol. 1 closes with the excellent 10-minute “White Rose,” which almost would represent a sort of auspicious outlook, or “crystal palace,” as the axeman quipped, but for all the twisted fu**ing, for lack of a better term, that Ripley Johnson does to the mix here. Though the mood is generally ominous the song’s galloping structure (think like a far nerdier version of Zeppelin’s “Achilles Last Stand”) does materialize into one major-chord progression, creating a sort of The Who-like moment (all that band’s epics seemed to be in major). Inevitably, though, the band falls upon its primary old trick, which albeit is an oldie but goodie, warping the guitar so that it sounds like a sitar, also eschewing manual techniques such as close-picking with so much reverb ooze that the result is truly unlike anything we’ve ever heard. And isn’t that the way life’s supposed to be? Yes, especially if the dark, eerie dirges actually jibe with your ridiculously tardy adherence to said musical project, while outside “the rain is unstoppable.”

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