City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Moon Duo, The Caves, 4 September 2014, Review

By Euan Andrews - Posted on 12 September 2014

Moon Duo
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The Caves

San Francisco drone-rockers Wooden Shjips have spent the past ten years slowly building a reputation for being the modern motorik beat fan’s transportive brain-hammerer of choice, so much so that lead Shjip Ripley Johnson has added a side project, Moon Duo, to sate public appetite for his visions of cruising down endless desert-fried autobahns.

Moon Duo pairs Johnson with partner Sanae Yamada on extremely Doors-like organ, as well as a nameless head-down drummer whose presence surely means we’re seeing Moon Trio tonight. Over the space of an hour in the densely tight and sweaty Caves, Moon Duo effectively play one long song which just happens to have stops and starts for audience applause.

As with Wooden Shjips, Moon Duo wear their influences very evidently. A mixture of the Germanic motorik groove perfected by Neu sprinkled with the mind-funnelling extremities of Silver Apples and the relentless roar of Suicide all baked in a hazy, muddy sound rewound from an imaginary USA West Coast circa 1969.

In fact, Moon Duo sound so similar to Johnson’s “other” band that one wonders why bother with a second outlet? The other problem is that while Johnson, Yamada and drummer all puff and pant, exerting themselves to pull the audience off the ground into some metaphysical higher plain, take-off is never fully achieved.

The sound quality is poor, smashing off the Caves unforgiving ancient stone walls, leaving me feeling like I have muffles over my ears. When Johnson takes one of his many guitar solos, moments when excitement mounts in anticipation that we could finally begin to take flight, his quicksilver squalling is swallowed up by the clanging sound murk.

Moon Duo clearly have the pedigree, talent and willing spirit. But tonight we have remained steadfastly stuck in the mud when we should have been soaring across vast inner vistas.