Moon Duo – Circles

This is krautrock coloured in.


Last year Moon Duo duo Sanae Yamada and Erik ‘Ripley’ Johnson released ‘Mazes’, a blast of hazy fuzz guitar, synth-drone and metronomic percussion.

Now, they return merely a year later with second album ‘Circles’ which continues where that debut record left off. ‘Circles’ is named and inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s publication of the same name which explores human experience and man’s constant striving for greater knowledge and self-understanding.

And in a simpler sense ‘Circles’ encapsulates what Moon Duo do too; the constant looping of their drum patterns, the swirls and drones, the repetitive motifs, phrases and codas which keep encircling your mind until they’re buried deep inside.

It’s true to say that Moon Duo have mastered their own specific formula, with their head nodding, toe-tapping krautrock, that treads on the more playful side of drone rock. ‘Circles’ is an album that at times sounds bright, breezy and has a warming swagger about it, its nine songs propelled along, the journey being a droning, fuzzy but sunny one, pop sensibilities always bubbling near the surface.

If you spent any time with ‘Mazes’ there will be a familiar feel to ‘Circles’’ hypnotic swirls. From the outset, opener and lead single ‘Sleepwalker’, the template is set and all phasers are set to drone.

Much of the album’s conception took place in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains and that may explain the blurred, sunrise brightness of the title track and the sexy swagger and almost 60s dance doo wop of ‘I Can See’, with its whirling melody.

The space age ‘I’ve Been Gone’ pulsates with a fuzzy blast of guitars to power it to the finish while ‘Free Action’ saunters along with a massive grin and irresistible handclaps before closer ‘Rolling Out’ fuzzes and fizzes with over eight minutes of precision and gentle, cloudy feedback.

If it’s right to say that ‘Circles’ sticks close to what has come before, it also proves that Moon Duo are masters of their craft. This is krautrock coloured in. The repetition becomes mesmerising, the melodies all consuming; once it’s in your head it just keeps reverberating.

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