When Wooden Shjips guitarist Ripley Johnson splintered off in the late 2000s to form Moon Duo with Sanae Yamada, he could hardly have predicted that his brand of distorted, psych-inflected guitar music would become so de rigueur nearly a decade later. And yet here we are, half-way through the band’s conceptual double album based around the Taoist philosophical principle of Yin and Yang. Funny how things work out.

This is just Volume 1 of Occult Architecture and it deals with the Yin, or the dark side if you will (the Yang-focused Volume 2 will follow later this year). In many ways, this is the more obvious space for the group to explore, given their penchant for the more frazzled, turbulent end of the psych spectrum, but rarely before have they flirted so openly with the demonic.

Opening track ‘The Death Set’ percolates like a toxic gas filling your headspace, with Johnson’s reverb fusing with Yamada’s keys, whilst Martin Hammett-worthy post-punk drum claps dictate the pace. The inevitable Johnson solo – and all seven tracks here have at least one – is insidious, leaving you to wonder less “how’s he doing that?” than “what’s he up to?” By the time you reach follow-up ‘Cold Fear’, you may already fancy a shower. That track’s tone is less opaque, however, with Sanada’s more central presence calling to mind a lineage closer to Suicide or Stereolab, if the latter were doused in petrol.

They save their most incandescent mode for the one-two shot of ‘Cross-Town Fade’ and ‘Cult of Moloch’. The former lets the frenzied drums take the lead, with Johnson’s razor-edged, weaponised guitar at its angriest and Yamada’s keys acting like flashing emergency lights. The latter track is the subsequent headache – a bass-heavy, pounding number that earns its reference to the titular child-sacrifice-recipient deity. This will sound like fun to certain sectors of the music listening public, and it is. Moon Duo realise that reaching out to new frontiers of fans is unlikely to be a fruitful exercise at this stage, instead choosing to focus on what they excel at.

If anything could be singled out as accessible, it would be ‘Creepin’’. Melody breaks out on more than one occasion, guitars are not drenched in dissonance, drums are propulsive and something resembling a chorus emerges. Even the solo is perky. If you are impatient for Volume 2 of this double record, this might be the closest pointer we have so far to how they will interpret the Yang side. Volume 1, on the other hand, climaxes with the 10 minute ‘White Rose’, replete with a James Williamson-like guitar line and an irresistible Krautrock nodding hypnotism.

Taken together, Occult Architecture is Moon Duo’s fourth full studio album and it so far finds them sounding more energised and immediate than ever. The more challenging half of the record may still to be released, but judging by the vibrant band on display on Volume 1, we need not worry.