Wooden Shjips have always enthralled me. That's probably not a popular position to hold (I also liked both of the Crocodiles' albums), but it's true. It should come as no surprise that I enjoyed Moon Duo's first LP, Escape, as well as the various EPs and singles before and after that. I was anticipating Mazes, hoping for some more mid-fi kraut jams with that omnipresent amp scuzz that hooked me in. I was pleased ultimately.

Immediately noticeable is the fidelity. While maintaining the typical sonic trademarks of the band, details are now more discernible through the fog of organ where before they would be hidden in hiss. Maintaining the two chord stomp, opener 'Seer' slouches with flashing eyes through its almost seven minute running length, somehow locking so solidly in its minimal groove that it feels like no longer than four minute, a temporal distortion that is a testament to the swallowing nature of this project. If you aren't ready to be enveloped, then don't enter. 'Mazes' cross-pollinates The Monks with Guru Guru and a hint of Woods, and it sounds amazing. Lyrics are all but damned, coming in only when necessary and usually to break up the guitar's longer freakouts. Where the album succeeds is hard to pinpoint, partially because the music is so heavily indebted to lengthy jams, a move that helps Mazes maintain staying power. Repeated listens have only gleaned one possible source: the natural chemistry that has always been there. When both players sync up perfectly (that is, when the two chords are just right and the guitar is just stoned enough), it's magical; a moment that recalls the first time I heard 'Sing Swan Song' or Tanz Der Lemmingue. When they fail to catch their stride (the only instance here really being 'Run Around'), it comes off as another pseudo-garage ploy. 'Run Around' rides a guitar figure lifted from 'Meat Stomp Lively' and adds in two major downfalls: haltingly delivered lyrics and out of place (but still brilliantly played) delayed guitar. Despite this, the track is still short enough (4:43) to be mostly enjoyable, but lacks the forceful haze of other tracks even in its clusterfuck of a mix.

For all the mythos behind this album (primarily its recording in Berlin), this is another grandly straightforward jam. Yes, the production has cleaned up a bit and the playing has gotten even more in the pocket, becoming an advantageous being in a realm of infinite possibility, but at its heart we have no reason to spread any sort of loftier jam on the bread of Moon Duo. Yes, some tracks are a bit overlong, an issue that I had with Escape, but that comes with the territory. Get amped up for more Moon Duo, because they will probably bring the fucking noise again.

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