Moon Duo’s second volume of Occult Architecture (Sacred Bones Records) is awash with the same electro-psych space grooves that marked the first, released in February. While that album was packaged as the dark half of this binary musical journey, Vol. 2 is the light, the rebirth, the blossoming of the spring, according to the record’s press materials. With five songs clocking in at 39 minutes, it indeed feels lighter, a breezy zone-out record in which each track kind of melds into the next.
“New Dawn” starts things off on familiar turf with fuzzy layers of guitar and synth and vocalist Ripley Johnson’s stoner-ghost vocals on top of some changes reminiscent of Nirvana’s “All Apologies.” The seven-minute instrumental “Mirror’s Edge” is next, a warm and soulful track that makes me wonder what Morcheeba vocalist Skye Edwards is up to these days. Moon Duo makes a lot of noise for what’s technically a three-piece (Johnson on guitar, Sanae Yamada on keys, and drummer John Jeffrey, who also plays with them on tour), creating washed-out textures that bring to mind Suicide, especially on the third track, “Sevens,” and even The Legendary Pink Dots on album closer “The Crystal World.”
The magisterial “Lost in Light” is my favorite, a lush and introspective bit of dream-pop the band released in March along with a trippy animated video that completes the visual story begun with “Cold Fear” from Vol. 1. As I was writing this review, I sent that song to a friend and trusted musical advisor, who answered with a link to “Dog End of a Day Gone By,” by Love and Rockets, so I’ll leave that here also as a point of reference for potentially interested listeners.
Though it lacks the sinister dance songs and rip-rockers that marked Vol. 1, Occult Architecture’s second half delivers on mood and ambiance. It’s the kind of record that would have brought together the hippies and the goth kids in my college dorm, an efficient and satisfying psychedelic escape.