Moon Duo are Ripley Johnson on guitar and lead vocals, and Sanae Yamada on keys and backing vocals. And they know how to Space / Kraut / Psychedelic Rock you. Tonight, a trio - thanks to regular tour drummer John Jeffrey - they produce a set at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds with intense visuals, and sounds from their various albums including the latest release, Occult Architecture - Vol 1.
The buzz in the room reflects the anticipation from the get-go and everyone chats away, sharing their view on what to expect from the US band. Support comes via a chap who may currently be crowned the finest one-man band this side of the Pennines. Armed only with a machine or three, and his voice, Girl Sweat revs things up with some loud tunes full of distorted noise and ranting, barked-out lyrics. He resembles the main act only in having a beard, and an apparent 'no shoe wearing 'policy of the sort you may find in Californians - not something you'd be chancing on the streets of Leeds if you value your soles. He's definitely entertaining and not a bad sound by any means.
Moon Duo follow with ninety minutes of audible and visual wonder. Sound-wise, they produce songs which blend mystical lyrics sung with a West Coast tone, psychedelic-inspired guitars and deep synthesizers. All this, with beats which are at times slow-paced and next are so frenzied and hypnotic they resemble a techno track - so much so, you can't help but look for the drum machine.
The band uses a minimal range of notes, but this proves no limitation to the end product and only emphasizes the spaced-out style they have adopted. You can hear the Californian influence from their time spent living in San Francisco; a love of nature and the universe that comes through in their lyrics may also draw from their home town of Oregon, where the band are currently based. Their exploration of Yin and Yang replicated in their latest album, and also in Volume 2 due for release in May, celebrates a fascination with all things 'different yet harmonious'. This seems constantly apparent - soft vocals with hard synths; Psychedelia with fast beats. Its Haight Ashbury on holiday in Germany. Or is that the other way around?
The group play only a handful of songs tonight, due in the most to their lasting longer than your average number, but they are all finely performed to the appreciative crowd. There is only a brief and quiet pause in between each song, many of which taken from their latest album, as if someone has stuck the first half of their LP on a record player. White Rose is something of a pinnacle, over ten minutes in length and using the band's capabilities to the maximum; drums switched to 'full speed', guitar distorted and various effects coming from the keys. Mountain scenes projected to stage-back, moving rapidly, were the perfect additive to this track.
Speaking of projections, if this gig was a feast for the ears, it was nothing shy of a smorgasbord for the eyes. The visuals could only be described as utterly transfixing. Non-stop shapes, colours and textures are unleashed upon us, and stretched far and wide across the room throughout the gig. Perhaps they would be less prominent in some venues, but not here at the rather intimate Brudenell. There was literally no escape from the spots, triangles, morse code-like dashes and dots, interchanging between multiple colours and monotones, spreading themselves around the back wall, sides and ceiling. Not so much blending with the music, but taking pole position - and yet complimenting the audio perfectly.
The whole evening resembles something of a dance-free rave, a place filled with love and yet only head nodding and toe tapping are allowed. Moon Duo will most definitely take you on a journey - you may not know where to, but it will be completely magical.