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Moon Duo

Keyboardist Sanae Yamada and Guitarist Ripley Johnson are Moon Duo, electronic music collaborators whose latest collections, Occult Architecture Vol. I and Vol. II, are meant to trace a musical path through the seasons. By turns, brighter or darker textures are layered over a central groove, expressing the idea of a natural landscape, and the changing architectural” facades created by temporal shifts.

The musicians recorded foundational elements with engineer Jason Powers at Type Foundry Studios (Portland, Ore.), with their touring drummer John Jeffrey playing electronic and acoustic drum parts. “They knew the structures they wanted, but with me a lot of it was getting the groove down,” Powers says. “There are parts that switch on top of that, but each song is essentially one repetitive groove and beat.

“Some songs were done with them as a band, or John would play to a click for a while, and then we would find a nice eight-bar segment and make a loop of the drums,” he continues. “Some of the songs had electronic drums and others had a live kit, but he had triggers on his kit, so he could trigger samples as well.”

Powers understood that most, if not all, of the guitar tracks from his sessions would be replaced, as well as any guide vocals, but some key- boards (taken direct) would be kept, and the drum parts were meant to be keepers.Originally, I was thinking I would do a mono overhead, so I had a Coles 4038 ribbon over the kit, but after a day or so I added an old Neumann CMV 563a tube mic from the ’50s—over the drummers shoulder,” Powers says.

Close mics included an SM7 on snare.I remove the popguard on the SM7 and it goes into an API 512 preamp,” he says. “The SM7 gives you a solid snare sound and has good hi-hat rejection; hi-hat bleeding into the snare mic is a common ailment.”

Moon Duo put in two six-day sessions at Type Foundry before taking their basic rhythms home to add guitars, more keyboards and final vocals. Both volumes were mixed by longtime collaborator Jonas Verwijnen: Vol. 1 in Berlin, and Vol. 2 in Portland at Josh Powell’s studio, The Map Room. I would say that when they left my studio, they were still forming the songs in a way,” Powers says.I didn’t even know at first that there were going to be two records. They were figuring out how it was going to go, and ultimately they settled  on the idea that there would be one record with a darker groove, and the other one would be a little lighter.”

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