Since forming in 2009 Moon Duo has been a band with a clear direction and, building on obvious inspiration from bands like Suicide and Silver Apples, founding members Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada have continued to refine their sound. The result is hypnotic and sprawling psychedelic jams and their latest offering, Live in Ravenna, includes songs from all three of their acclaimed studio albums.
The main impetus for the album was the success of their 2013 tour for which they replaced their drum machine with drummer John Jeffrey. The drums, however, don’t add the energy you might expect on record and these live versions also sacrifice definition, at times becoming too reverb-drenched.
It is questionable whether the band’s electronic and layered sound benefits much from being recorded live but shortcomings here are more a testament to their studio material than anything else. That said, the album shouldn’t be viewed in light of their other LPs and is more about capturing a special moment in time and offering a nice addition to the fans’ collections. It offers a fantastic set list and showcases the development of guitar sounds on the road, most notably on the ten-minute version of ‘Free Action’ which is a highlight. All in all Live in Ravenna is just Moon Duo doing what they do best.