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Quietus Mix 21: Moon Duo Head To Orbit
John Doran , April 12th, 2011 09:22

Moon Duo take us to the ripe old age of 21 in mixes just as they carry us to a new astral plane with a brilliant mix that stretches from No Wave to the might Aphrodites Child

Recently The Stool Pigeon was DJing to a bunch of jabbering ingrates in house of ill-repute near Kings Cross, in this nation’s ugly capital. Under the questionable spell of some foul tasting crystals we came up like Ming The Merciless while playing Shrinking Moon For You by Wooden Shjips. After seven or eight minutes of warmly reverberating riffage a punter came over to the DJ booth, barely able to control himself because he was shaking so much. Unfortunately it turned out he was shaking with uncontrollable rage not ecstasy. “Will you make... this... riff... stop?” he sputtered.

The answer, of course, was no. And here to explain to this 9-5 workin’, pastel shirt with the button down collars wearin’, Fosters drinking sucker, why the answer to this question is a quantum impossibility, is Mr Ripley Johnson of the psychedelic rock bands Wooden Shjips and Moon Duo: “Well one way to look at it is that the riff does not and cannot ever end, because nothing does. And that is the philosophical and maybe spiritual angle to the whole repetitive and minimalist approach: you can tune into certain realities if you choose to pay attention and focus. I'm very much into the Buddhist idea that the only reality is the present moment and that there is no future or past; they are just mental constructs. Which is why wanting the riff to end is just a waste of mental and emotional energy.

“The riff goes on. Accept it.”

Acceptance of the riff is truly the first step towards enlightenment - or enheavyenment, if you prefer.

While Wooden Shjips are the unstoppable narconauts dealing in rapturous deep brain thrombosis, coming on like an unholy alliance between Suicide and Loop, Moon Duo are the other, lighter, side of the same extremely psychedelic coin. Featuring Ripley on vocals and lysergically blistering guitars and his partner Sanae Yamada on keyboards and machine rhythms, the pair take a much more holistic (and more drug free) approach to blowing minds on their debut album Mazes which references everyone from The Velvet Underground, to Hawkwind, to Relatively Clean Rivers to The Grateful Dead. Ripley, a prodigiously badger-bearded gentleman of rock says: “We definitely try to bring psych elements other than a heavy, druggy vibe [with Moon Duo]. I'm a big fan of that easy going California psych vibe, so I think that comes through sometimes."

The guitarist is rapturous on the subject of being in a band with one’s girlfriend: “It rules. I think it often makes for a much more civilized experience, especially on tour.” The album is born out of love in a number of ways however. It is a love letter of sorts to that hub of free-wheeling, sun dappled psychedelia, San Francisco, as the pair wrote it in the city before leaving for their new house in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Ripley says: “We recorded it in our house in San Francisco and to me it sounds like a San Francisco record. Thematically it's generally about leaving that city and moving on. So that's how I hear it.”

He even says that the perfect place to hear it would be “driving down Highway 1 in California, from San Francisco to Santa Cruz”.

Out on the road the big wheels keep on turning and that riff keeps on rolling. Accept it brother, just accept it.

The text for this interview appears in the current edition of The Stool Pigeon, out now

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