Circles is the second long player brewed up by Sanae Yamada and Wooden Shjips man Erik “Ripley” Johnson, taking on their Moon Duo guise. As with debut Mazes, Circles is a celebration of dark, cyclic (pun probably intended) krautrock jams. All 9 tracks pulse with a quick stepping machine drum heart, the kind of rhythm Suicide made their own in the late 70s. Over this constant high speed metronome Yamada and Johnson sing-intone like acid riddled kids of a surfer generation. It’s a heady combination of naïve pop melodies, fuzzy reels of guitar and that constant beat that draws the listener in from the first.
Opener Sleepwalker is the most Suicide-indebted track on Circles, pretty much lifting the riff from Ghost Rider complete, teaming it with mystical, Eastern sounding spirals of guitar and an ethereal breathy chorus of “I’ll be seeing you.” It sets the template for the album, a template that is rarely veered from. This turns out to be both Circles’ strength and its downfall. The nature of the music demands long, heady jams that draw the listener in, and enjoying the set in one go does lead the listener a hypnotic reel. However at times, tracks become near indistinguishable- Dance pt 3 and Sparks could be demoes of the same song, suggesting that the band were either too lazy or too stoned to care.
This isn’t too severe a criticism though, and on the whole the succinct company of Moon Duo – with Circles clocking in at an enjoyable 44 minutes- feels like time spent at some fire lit endless freaked out desert party, squeezing out the high ‘til the drugs go bad. Which is a recommendation.