A former SF band brings psych grooves to the chapel

SAN FRANCISCO — Although initially launched as a side project for Wooden Shjips guitarist Ripley Johnson, the pulsating psych band Moon Duo has gradually grown to match the popularity of Johnson’s other band. Having first come to prominence as a member of the buzzing SF psy quartet that helped foster a local resurgence of mind-bending sounds in the mid-2000s, Johnson founded Moon Duo with his wife, singer/keyboardist Sanae Yamada. , in 2009.

The duo explored a similarly minimalist sound – frequently using a drum machine as rhythmic backing – on their early EPs. kill time and Escape. However, the songs featured a driving beat and a fractured pop sensibility that echoed the proto-electronic experiments of Silver Apples and New York City synth punk duo Suicide. Moon Duo has since released a string of acclaimed full-length albums through the Sacred Bones Records imprint that have continued to hone Johnson and Yamada’s unique blend of dreamy atmospheres and propelling krautrock grooves.

Moon Duo – Mazes (official video) by
UndergroundTV on

Both musicians left San Francisco long ago (first moving to Colorado before finally settling in Portland, Oregon), but have maintained a steady output of melodious, hypnotic efforts. While their 2015 recording The shadow of the sun received praise from online outlets like NPR and The Quietus for introducing an almost industrial grit to their synth sound, two years later the Tandem Collections Occult Architecture Vol. 1 and vol. 2 ventured into even darker, more gothic territory.

Moon Duo – Creepin’ (Official Audio) by
Disks of Sacred Bones on

Moon Duo went on hiatus while Wooden Shjips returned to the stage in 2018 with a new studio album V and the lysergic live document shijps in the night which was recorded during a performance at the now-closed club San Francisco Slim’s that year, but the band returned the following year with the release of The stars are the light. Recorded at a studio in Portugal’s Serra de Sintra with Spacemen 3 and Spectrum director Sonic Boom behind the controls, the new album features elements of heart-pounding disco and ’90s electronic dance music for a brighter, more pop.

Moon Duo – Lost Heads (Official Audio) by
Disks of Sacred Bones on

Last year, the band was one of many alumni of the Levitation Festival in Austin, Texas, featured on a live recording produced by festival-affiliated publisher, the Reverberation Appreciation Society. The Living in levitation The volume featuring Moon Duo includes recordings of the band’s performances in 2012 and 2014. Returning to the stage for the first time in over two years, the band recently visited Austin for this year’s edition of Levitation Fest and will travel to Mexico City for the Hipnosis Festival this weekend. Moon Duo performs its immersive and deeply psychedelic multimedia show “The Lightship” at San Francisco Chapel on Thursday as part of the club’s 10th anniversary concert series. Midnight Artist (aka Caleb Pate) spins an extended DJ set to kick off the proceedings.

Duo Moon
Thursday, Nov. 3, 7:30 p.m. $22 to $25
The Chapel

Comments are closed.