Part one of Moon Duo’s two album release schedule for 2017, Occult Architecture Vol.1 is apparently the Yin to Vol.2’s Yang and therefore suited to its winter release date by virtue of it being the darker of the two works. Definitions of darkness obviously vary from person to person as what we have here sounds to me as joyously upbeat as anything the duo have come out with on their previous three albums.
The concept behind the dual-headed work is, variously, the journey of day into night, dark to light and the seasonal changes the planet’s nature is (generally still) beholden to. Ideal subject matter then for an act whose songs generally feel like the audio equivalent of one of those images of a snake eating its own tail.
Whether any of the underlying themes would actually become evident without being set out as above is debateable. The pair’s voices wash in and out between the instrumental elements, at times becoming merely another of those instruments it seems, rather than actively explaining any concept, providing a narrative or whatever. Mary Anne Atwood, Aleister Crowley, Colin Wilson and Manly P. Hall all apparently influenced the songwriting but you’ll probably need the album liner notes and lyric sheet (if it comes with such things) to get a handle on the actual subject matter.
Beat-wise the tunes are as motorik as fans will expect, Ripley’s guitar parts weave in and out as usual & feature the same level of fuzz and distortion as employed since day one. The synth parts are where any alteration or expansion of the musical palate can be found – greater clarity is evident on occasion and more pure, piano-like stabs of notes appear than of old, particularly on the ten minute final track ‘White Rose’.
Right from the weighty opening riff of ‘The Death Set’ though this is as fine an album as Moon Duo have constructed since their inception and you’ll not be disappointed with its live rendering when they take the show on the road in the UK in the spring.