Moon Duo, “Occult Architecture Vol. 1”

Moon Duo
Occult Architecture Vol. 1

Moon Duo’s new album Occult Architecture Vol. 1 is dark music for dark times. Certainly, as each new day reveals, we are in the midst of a truly troubling moment in history; that the pair of Portlanders have come up with an appropriate soundtrack to the upheaval might be a testament to our great need for empathy, for their new work actually owes it inspiration to the hidden duality of existence: male and female, yin and yang, darkness and light. (That said, the news was probably on somewhere during the recording process.)

The Portland-based psych-rock duo has been creating increasingly harder synth and guitar music for close to a decade, and Occult Architecture shows they are definitely not mellowing with age. Like their previous releases, it has moments of grunge-like mainstream appeal, to the point that occasional comparisons to a more digitized version of early Soundgarden—sans barechested vocalizing—would not be totally out of place.

The album opens with “The Death Set,” starting things off with a riff reminiscent of the Doctor Who theme that eventually builds into a groove. “Cold Fear” and “Creepin’” follow, and they set the pace for the rest of the album, which ends with a ten-minute-plus jam that dissolves, finally, into the sound of wind or space, perhaps signaling a departure to another, more forgiving world.

It can be easy to lose yourself in Moon Duo’s psychic trip, and as the trance-inducing vocals wash over, you perhaps take the repetition of the tracks for granted. But the dexterity with which they present seemingly simple riffs belies the complexity of the songwriting—and the difficulty in getting to their destination.


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