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Moon Duo – Lodge Room, Highland Park (L.A.) November 22, 2019

Moon Duo by Cecilia Fonseca
28 November 2019

Photo by Cecilia Fonseca

Moon Duo brought the tour for their stunning new album Stars Are the Light to a packed house at Lodge Room last Friday.

Previous Moon Duo releases found the band exploring psych-garage minimalism with fuzzed-out guitars and organs at the forefront. Stars Are the Light deviates from this formula, replacing the two-chord stomp with pulsing rhythms that allow shimmering guitar and synthesizer lines to float around the mix.

Moon Duo at by Ryan Orvis
Photo by Ryan Orvis

The musical progression recalls similar paths tread by Spacemen 3 in the 1980s and CAN in the 70s. British drone rock heroes Spacemen 3’s sound became cleaner and more blissed-out as they went, making co-founder Sonic Boom a logical choice to mix Stars Are the Light. German psychedelic pioneers CAN went from the cosmic freakout of “Mother Sky” (1970) to the ambient funk of Future Days (1973) in just a few years. Fittingly, selections from that album were played over the sound system to set the mood before Moon Duo’s performance.

Moon Duo by Cecilia Fonseca
Photo by Cecilia Fonseca

Horror-drone minimalist Umberto (a.k.a. Matt Hill) opened the show from behind a thick cloud of smoke on the floor in front of the stage. Following the CAN intro, Moon Duo entered a large four-sided structure with transparent screen walls that had been erected onstage.

Moon Duo by Cecilia Fonseca
Moon Duo by Cecilia Fonseca
Photo by Cecilia Fonseca

Visual projections appeared on all sides of the screen, with silhouettes of band members Ripley Johnson, Sanae Yamada and John Jeffrey melting into animated patterns and flashing strobes. Yamada (on synthesizer and keys) and Jeffrey (on drums) provided a constant groove for Johnson’s echoing guitar lines and relaxed vocals to drift upon.

The audience remained transfixed by the visual and audio spectacle, which was as close to a mind-altering experience as you could get without chemical enhancement.

Moon Duo by Cecilia Fonseca
Moon Duo by Cecilia Fonseca
Photo by Cecilia Fonseca

Moon Duo completed the West Coast leg of their tour this past week and are headed to Australia for a run of shows in February 2020.

Moon Duo by Cecilia Fonseca
Moon Duo by Cecilia Fonseca
Photo by Cecilia Fonseca