Ethereal with soothing tinkles, and scattered synth, Stars Are the Light is a fantastic new offering from the American psych explorers Moon Duo, marking a progression into significantly new territory with this seventh LP. From a preoccupation with the transcendental and occult that informed Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada’s previous guitar-driven psych rock, Stars Are the Light sees the band morph the abstract and metaphysical with the otherworldly vibe, which they effectively establish on this eight-track album.
Branching out from Occult Architecture Vol. 2, the album has a sonic physicality that is simultaneously progressive and undulating; the synth incorporated in Stars Are The Light puts dance at the heart of their sound. These are all songs about embodied human experience — love, change, misunderstanding, internal struggle, joy, misery, alienation, discord, harmony, celebration — rendered as a kind of celebration of the self, both in relation to other selves and as a consideraton for how we dance with the cosmos.
Adding sounds of disco to Stars Are the Light, Johnson and Yamada have allowerd the album to shimmer, embracing both elements of ’70s funk and ’90s rave. With head nods to the likes of the Beta Band and consequentially, The Aliens as well as Mancunians, Money, Moon Duo are tapping into a music market not often catered for, or one that certianly has to do more searching, as well as soul-searching. Johnson’s signature guitar sound is soothingly sluggish and refined throughout Stars, while Yamada’s synths and dreamy vocals are foregrounded, infiting the body to move with ease in mesmering shapes. With Sonic Boom (Spacemen 3, Spectrum) at the mixing desk in Portugal’s Serra de Sintra, (known to the Romans as “The Mountains of the Moon”) clearly the area’s lush landscape and heavy lunar energies have inspired the sonic texture of this LP.
Opener, Flying, with the repetition and glitch sounds, tingley yet smooth, has all the capacity to deceive you into thinking you are soaring. Title track, Stars Are The Light, has a clear psych-sound, which is underpinned with the synth, outlining the overall vibe of this immersive record. Fall (In Your Love) is where it starts to sound a little more Beta Band-esque. That funk bass is almost impossible not to fall in love with. The World and the Sun takes that bass to a new level with added glitch and percussion to make it one of the stand-out tracks from this wondrous new Moon Duo LP. Eternal Shore is a fun, cinematic work of prog-rock that works for me and Fever Night, final track, makes more head nods to the lads from Fife, Ripley evidently also capable of ethereal vocals.
Stars Are The Light is a warmly-welcomed movement for Moon Duo from their guitar-driven tracks witnessed on Eye 2 Eye to this more psych-synth, percussive-bass sound that will linger in your eyes long after the album has stopped.