The cavernous Heaven venue is perfect for grimy rock bands who find themselves upon stage, yet also manage to lurk amongst the shadows. As a result when a mysterious, grimy act such as Moon Duo appear in front of a huge LED moon light screen and begin to play a set the potential for them ripping the roof of the place is a possibility. Especially when 'Occult Architecture Vol. 1' is already one of 2017’s best rock releases.
Since their expansion into a trio with the inclusion of John Jeffrey on drums a couple of years back, their sound has also evolved. No longer insular in sound, theirs is now an element which is expansive and inclusive. ‘The Death’ which opens the set has a stoned swagger, shoegazey synths and a seventies backbeat. The insistent fuzz bass and keyboard drone of ‘Cold Fear’ is pretty much techno made without computers, while the vocal interplay between Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada on ‘Cross-Town Fade’ is sultry and seductive, a perfect foil to the krautrocky pop rage which lies beneath.
The LED screen fizzles throughout with eye attacking psychedelic images, pulsing fluro beams, melting suns, thousands of dots and furiously flashing lights while the band remain in the shadows. With the majority of the tracks pushing the ten minute mark and with epilepsy threatening visuals, the show proves be one for trancing out. One track pushing fifteen minutes breaks out into some headmash calipso played by Neu!, another reminiscent of Loop, or Spacemen 3 at their brilliant monotonous best. Johnson’s skill as a guitarist is also pushed to the fore in a live environment, not a conventional player as such, his playing is as unassuming as his vocals. His ability to ease you into another one of his guitar solos is so subtle that you only realise he’s been thrashing out major psych riffs five minutes after he started doing so.
In Occult Architecture Vol. 1, not only did Moon Duo show their credentials as a brilliant album act (a second volume is due to drop in a couple of months), but on tonight’s showing, they also prove their worth as one of the finest live acts around at the moment too.
Photographs courtesy of Bruna Amara.