For their seventh album, Moon Duo are embracing the concept of the dance. Through their previous six long players there has always been an element of a groove, albeit one that often opens out into longer, psychedelic interludes. Both the Occult Architecture albums show how comfortable Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada are in these environments, but in Stars Are The light the band are consciously redefining their parameters, stepping in a choreographed manner out of their comfort zone to try something new.
Cool, dub-inflected grooves are the order of the day, drawing on disco and early 1990s dance music for inspiration. Unlikely as it may seem Manchester appears to be at the heart of some of these influences. The World and the Sun has a groovy bass which is more than a little aligned with Primal Scream’s Loaded, the music swaying as Johnson and Yamada murmur loosely over the top. It’s all very hypnotic, dressed with synthesized topping and atmospherics.
Those atmospherics work especially well on the title track, reaching for the skies in tandem with dreamy guitar work, the sotto voce vocals and a beat that has a reassuring weight this time. Clearly the dance the duo is embracing will be a loose-limbed, relatively laid back affair.
Long standing fans need not worry too much that Moon Duo have completely turned their backs on the past. Their musical language – melodies and harmonies at least – is still the same, but the song structures are tighter, rhythms leaner and more defined, bass lines with a spring in their step. That means the new music will rub up against the old very comfortably in the context of a live set.
As the album progresses the grooves get more pronounced, as though the night’s movement is getting into gear. Most intriguing is Eternal Shore, a track using five beats rather than the conventional four, using the extra measure to capture the ebb and flow of the water. Here the duo start to add more psychedelic textures to the music, the boat ride becoming more of an out of body experience.
Unfortunately there are only two tracks after this, the nocturnal pair Eye 2 Eye and Fever Night, which means we are done and dusted in just under 40 minutes. This is a shame, as the style of music suggests another twenty of swaying and grooving in this mood would do just nicely. That means there’s only one thing for it – put the whole thing on again!