I’m a big fan of stupidly simple songs. I could listen to something drone for days on end, sober as a nun, and still have a gospel to preach about it. I suppose it’s one of the perks of growing up near an airport — you learn to appreciate when noises ebb back and forth between background and foreground. You learn to daydream along with a soundtrack.
That’s part of the reason why I’m surprised I’m enjoying the new Moon Duo LP Shadow of the Sun so much. There were two things that made Wooden Shjips albums interesting to me: the incessant beatdown of the percussion section and Ripley Johnson‘s mastery of Echoplex riffs. So when I first heard of his side project with keyboardist Sanae Yamada and a drum machine, I expected great results and received 2010’s Escape — still one of my most favorite records to come out in recent memory.
Then things started getting more complicated. 2011’s Mazes had the same spark as Escape, but more instrumentation. More of what sounded like filler. Circles came out in 2012 and I was even more saddened by the band’s direction. I still enjoyed these albums, but this was getting a little too far away from the visceral knife-edge I was craving every time I wanted to get up, get out and get somewhere recklessly.
I’m not entirely sure I know exactly what’s changed with Shadow of the Sun. Listening to Moon Duo’s back catalog while writing this, I don’t hear a huge leap in sound or production, but putting on opening track “Wilding,” I get that same synapse chill running through my limbic system. “Fuck yeah,” I’m saying to myself, “bring on the two-note shuffle.” Something seems to have clicked with the band — the Spacemen 3 and Suicide influences are balanced across the record’s runtime, the cleanest, sparkliest synths (like on “Ice”) don’t sound entirely out of place, and even slow tracks like “In A Cloud” still possess a smouldering energy. There’s even what sounds like a real-life, human drummer on tracks like “Slow Down Low” and the motorik vibe doesn’t dim.
Shadow of the Sun drops March 3 on Sacred Bones. In the meantime, you can stream “Slow Down Low” below via Soundcloud, or have a listen to the whole thing over at NPR. You rent the Cadillac and I’ll fill this briefcase with illicit substances. We’re taking this album to Vegas.