The highest apex of psychedelia, be it art, music, drugs or literature, is to induce a prolonged consciousness shift that affects the consumer far beyond the time that they were privy to the act. Moon Duo‘s third full-length LP, Shadow of the Sun, was written entirely during one of these evolving phases. Working in a rare and uneasy rest period for the band, devoid of the constant adrenaline of performing live and the stimulation of traveling through endless moving landscapes, offered Moon Duo a new space to reflect on all of these previous experiences and cradle them while cultivating the new album in the unfamiliar environment of a new dwelling; a dark Portland basement. The effect was akin to the act of descending from a train after a long and arduous trip, only to see it (and all your subsequent realities) speed off into the horizon without you. It was from this stir-crazy fire that Shadow of the Sun was forged.
Evolving the sound of their critically acclaimed first two full length records, Mazes (2011) and Circles (2012), Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada have developed their ideas with the help of their newly acquired steam engine, Canadian drummer John Jeffrey (present on the band‘s last release, Live in Ravenna. Moon Duo used the creative process as a flickering beacon of sanity in an ocean of uncertainty while in these land bound months. The unchartered rhythms and tones of this album reflect their strive for equilibrium in this new environment, and you can hear that Shadow of the Sun is the result of months of wrangling with this profound, unsettling way of being. Exploring the record, a listener will perceive the song "Night Beat," with its off-kilter dance rhythm, as an attempt by the band to find meaning and acceptance in this new, shifting ground, while “Wilding" delivers a familiar Moon Duo sound, taking refuge in a repetitive, grinding riff-scape. Elsewhere on the record, the band recognizes that no journey is possible without being on the road, paying tribute to the cosmic trucker boogie saint in “Slow Down Low” and “Free the Skull.” From the narcoleptic dancefloor killer “Zero,” the record spirals perfectly into a resplendent daydream, the ecstatically pretty “In a Cloud,” which is a spectacular moment to witness.
To further coat the album with an air of uncertainty and tension, the duo decamped to Berlin to mix with Finnish beat-meister Jonas Verwijnen of Kaiku Studios. There in a counter-intuitive act of creative catharsis, they managed to dissolve the album’s formal technique into a cool and paradoxically sane sound of confusion.
The result, at the end of the trip, is the album Shadow of the Sun.