By Kenny McMurtrie
Having caught up quickly with Moon Duo’s previous output earlier on this year (and finding it more appealing overall than ‘parent’ group Wooden Shjips’ work) it was with great satisfaction that I learned there wasn’t long to wait for new material by the twosome.
Preceded by the release of the video for opener ‘Sleepwalker’, wherein King Khan oversees an exercise class you’d not see Eric Prydz dead at, this time around there seems to be some disco creeping into the space-rock template on Circles. The underlying drone is still very present but the urge to groove about the place supplants the more usual one of just head bobbing.
Things take a more traditional turn on ‘I Can See’ as desert highways being sped along are evoked with the driving, metronomic beat and strangulated guitar solos that float in and out of the mix. It’s all change again on the title track though, as the guitar parts have a lazy country feel to them and the vocals deliver a lighter, more carefree refrain, redolent of summer evenings on the back porch making sure no one’s stolen your horse.
ZZ Top are brought to mind on ‘I Been Gone’ as we get back in that motor and head out on the highways and byways once more. Unfortunately the sonic possibilities of the final guitar solo are cut off far too soon in the mix. From that point on the remaining five songs proceed in the tried and tested manner, finishing off with the album’s epic in the shape of ‘Rolling Out’, which clocks in at just over eight minutes long. Live, in small and compact spaces, I expect this set will benefit from the intimacy gained and the chance to extend solos, turn up the distortion etc, but on record the sunnier aspect has somewhat diluted things in comparison to the likes of the Horror Tour EP or debut album Mazes.