Moon Duo - Escape LP
By: Rob Gannon
Is an LP differentiated from an EP by number of tracks or by overall time length? There is an official line, but it remains a grey area for sure. Sometimes the band clear up the issue themselves with a definitive tag, such as San Francisco’s Moon Duo have done here with their Escape LP. And it’s thoughtful of them to have done so, because it would have been easy to mistake Escape for an EP. Four-track releases, once viable as a single, now seem always to be elevated into the EP class, and, as here, sometimes higher.
Perhaps in psych-rock it’s just different. The similarly-influenced Oneida side-project People Of The North certainly agree. Their decent 2010 release Deep Tissue was also only four tracks in length, and it was also claimed to be an LP. True, in psyche the length of tracks tend to be on the long side to compensate, but there is at least a little creative marketing going on somewhere. Either way, as we all know, it’s quality that counts, not quantity. And Moon Duo certainly make up for the former, if lacking in the latter.
Offshoot of the much-loved, but devilishly cultish, Wooden Shjips, Sanae Yamada and Erik “Ripley” Johnson have compiled just shy of 30 minutes of admirable, repetitive psyche for this debut, which, while indebted to that Wooden Shjips umbrella, nevertheless seems less standoffish, and thus easier to appreciate.
The whispery vocal on the opener “Motorcycle, I Love You”, as well as its punctuative riffs, feedback and epic whammy bar mutilation provide direction and purpose to the resultant and hypnotic soup of brooding drone and loops. Though still firmly lodged in the realm of the bog-eyed, “In The Trees” is definitely rockier. For a while, its squalling fuzz and guiding drum hit like A Place To Bury Strangers fighting a dose of sedatives before spinning out into heavier spaced-out dissonance.
“Stumbling 22nd St” is decidedly less primitive however. Yamada’s keyboard refrain gives it presence, before again returning to type for a feedback-heavy wig-outro. The undulating, wind-like whistle of the closing title track gives it a calm elsewhere absent, though the track would perhaps have better placed mid-order so that Escape could have finished with a bang.
An uncharacteristic release for the predominantly lo-fi label Woodsist for sure, but a very worthy one nevertheless. Just as quality is better than quantity, it appears that at Woodsist so does class speak for itself, transcending genres.
Advised downloads: It’s only four tracks, go for the lot.
Escape is out now on Woodsist.