Talkhouse Weekend Playlist: Dark Jams for Dark Times from Moon Duo

An unnerving playlist of Sisyphean basslines, elegiac chants and more from Moon Duo's Sanae Yamada.

Today, garage psych-rockers Moon Duo release a sprawling psychedelic opus, Occult Architecture Vol. 1. As a companion to the new record, Sanae Yamada put together this playlist of unusual, menacing and evil tracks. 
– Dave Lucas, Talkhouse Marketing Manager

This is a mix of songs from records that I turn to in dark times, both personal and collective. It is not the music that I listen to when I want to be comforted or need a psych-up; it’s the music for when I am roiling inside and searching for a sonic mirror to help me understand where I am. Whether the darkness is wrought from internal struggle or larger, collective anxiety (or a feedback loop of both), I connect with certain music as an emanation from other reaches of the greater human consciousness, reminding us that we are all inexorably bound together in time and space.

Brigitte Fontaine & Areski Belkacem – “Diabolo”

The singing on this track is so unusual. The voices overlap in what sounds like some sort of incantation or an evil nursery rhyme. Brigitte’s voice is clean and plaintive while Areski’s sounds wetly malignant as he stumbles over his own breath. The negative space in this song is what really gets to me: the street sounds and ambient air in the background seem to accentuate a present absence, a massive void.

Laurie Spiegel – “Dirge Part II”

Drone that sounds vaguely hymnal. This is a song I consistently turn to on blue days. Its weather is muted and gray, and the synthesizer embodies the quality of a slow river.

Les Rallizes Dénudés – “But I’m Different”

This is not Les Rallizes Dénudés’ heaviest song, but to me it is the most elegiac. It begins quietly and sprawls out over its course. The bass line is like the path of Sisyphus, climbing up only to roll back down in endless descent, while the guitar seems to surge and recede from the liminal space of a dream you keep trying to remember but remains out of reach.

Fabulous Diamonds – “Inverted Vamp”

Much of Fabulous Diamonds’ music has a very interior feeling, like a recording from the cave of the brain as it spirals through different iterations of the same thought pattern. Nisa Venerosa’s repetitive drumming and chant-like vocals act as an axis for Jarrod Zlotic’s keys. The moaning, buzzing synths and cold, high piano weave together then slowly fragment into dischord.

David Bowie – “I’m Deranged”

I have a visceral love of this track and its pure, sexy menace. There is a reckless propulsion here, and a mournful weirdness, too many things going on, too many thoughts. I like that the album was intended to be a musical interpretation of a short story he wrote, and I find myself repeatedly drawn in by the fragmented narrative it presents.

Funkadelic – “Maggot Brain”

This track is a testament to the power of recorded music. Eddie Hazel unleashes an utterly wrenching, absolutely unequaled ten-minute guitar solo, a pure concentration of energy through a time and place that will never exist again but is preserved here like an ancient beetle in amber. It feels to me like a howl in the face of the impersonal void, a paean to the knowledge that all will be inexorably lost.

Nick Drake – “Black-Eyed Dog”

I can’t think of anything to say about this song that isn’t somehow an insult to its naked intimacy.

Blues Control – “Opium Den/Fade To Blue”

Lea Cho and Russ Waterhouse have a special alchemy with which they explore questions about the nature of reality. Mechanistic beats and the slightly nauseated drone and guitar riff give this song an uneasy quality. It suggests some sort of essential instability. Flute, piano, organ and guitar coil and unfurl in a swirl of spontaneity and beauty, but that unnerving drone is always present. Nothing is as safe as it seems.

Six Organs of Admittance – “Close to the Sky”

I absolutely love Ben Chasny’s singing on this track. His high, whispering waver sounds like it’s reaching across a distance of time. But there is always so much that words cannot encompass, and the searing guitar steps in to say it as it needs to be said.

Judee Sill – “Crayon Angels”

Judee Sill’s music is all troubled times and unbridgeable loneliness. On this track, there is the feeling that she has relinquished any hope of ever fitting with the world. The pain of life is worn out, so she tosses it over her shoulder and looks to whatever comes after. The casual melody both belies and enhances the pathos of the lyrics.

Catherine Ribeiro  & Alpes – “Paix”

I am obsessed with this record, this track in particular. The long, slow burn has the character of some phenomena of the natural world: a tidal wave or a storm. It has the same shape, building in momentum and force to a crest then receding back from whence it came. The crest here is the siren song, fatally irresistible, of Catherine Ribeiro’s deep, commanding, unmistakable voice.

(Photo credit: Howard Wise)