Pasa Tem­pos

Al­bums by Moon Duo and Cliff Martinez

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MOON DUO Shadow of the Sun (Sa­cred Bones) This may be a strange com­pli­ment, but Moon Duo sounds very much like its name would sug­gest. Tracks from the pair (Wooden Shjips gui­tarist Erik “Ri­p­ley” John­son and key­boardist-vo­cal­ist Sanae Ya­mada) come across as cir­cu­lar in com­po­si­tion, with not just cen­tral riffs but en­tire song struc­tures go­ing around and around with­out any dis­cernible peaks or val­leys and in­stead wan­der­ing in wide loops. The gui­tars are pushed through so much re­verb they growl like mo­tor­cy­cle en­gines, the or­gans stutter at dou­ble time to the drums, and the vo­cals hum as if from outer space. It all seems to be sum­moned forth from the acid-fu­eled Day-Glo psychedelia of the 1960s, so plug in that lava lamp if you’ve still got one — there’s a song here ti­tled “Free the Skull,” af­ter all. The mood is as dark as a black-light poster, even when Moon Duo sneaks go-go rhythms into “Zero” and lets the kick drum take things up a notch in “Ice.” Taken in at once, Shadow of the Sun can leave you breath­less. The only real respite from the far-out, fast-paced vibe is the lan­guid, six-minute “In a Cloud” — which also hap­pens to be the best among th­ese tracks. Be­cause the lyrics are of­ten dif­fi­cult to hear (much less de­ci­pher), John­son’s gui­tar so­los must do the heavy lift­ing in con­vey­ing emo­tion, and they do a fine job of un­teth­er­ing lis­ten­ers from the rounded-out rep­e­ti­tion of the al­bum’s dron­ing grooves. — Robert Ker

CLIFF MARTINEZ Film Fest Gent (Mi­lan Records) “Those who love richly melodic ma­te­rial will have to look else­where,” warns the liner notes to this col­lab­o­ra­tion among film com­poser Cliff Martinez, the Brussels Phil­har­monic, and con­duc­tor/ar­ranger Dirk Brossé. The state­ment is slightly mis­lead­ing — though Martinez is known for fu­tur­is­tic, some­times dis­so­nant scores, his softer, more tra­di­tional side is also on dis­play here (in part thanks to the sym­phonic ac­com­pa­ni­ment pro­vided by the Phil­har­monic). The com­poser be­gan his ca­reer as a rock drum­mer, work­ing with Cap­tain Beef­heart and the Red Hot Chili Pep­pers in the early 1980s. He left the Chili Pep­pers in 1986, and not long af­ter was hired to score Steven Soder­bergh’s de­but film, Sex, Lies, and Video­tape . The two have col­lab­o­rated fre­quently since. This al­bum con­tains 16 tracks from nine films. The Soder­bergh movies rep­re­sented in­clude So­laris , Kafka , and Contagion , and the list also in­cludes Robert Red­ford’s The Com­pany You Keep and Ni­co­las Wind­ing Refn’s Only God For­gives . The va­ri­ety can be un­set­tling. Martinez is a mas­ter at cre­at­ing moods — usu­ally un­nerv­ing ones — so lis­ten­ing to this en­tire sampling can feel al­most ma­nip­u­la­tive. Also, given the nonchrono­log­i­cal order­ing of pieces, it is dif­fi­cult to ap­proach the al­bum with the in­ten­tion of study­ing the com­poser’s evo­lu­tion. But per­haps the pri­mary goal here is to dis­con­cert. You’ve been alerted, af­ter all. — Loren Bien­venu

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