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The Soft Moon was never intended for the public's ears, but you found it, were drawn in by its danger, and insisted that others hear. Oakland's Luis Vasquez began the project in order to better know his own self. He'd holed up in his apartment and let the tape roll, allowing gut and memory guide him. Those twin sherpas, however, led him to a place of darkness, claustrophobia and dread: a musical waste land moving to a Motorik tic, its edges made jagged in the image of early post-punk, swathed in the moody atmosphere of vintage darkwave.
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Welcome to the world of The Soft Moon and Luis Vasquez.
Vasquez started The Soft Moon by himself, with the intent of creating an all-emcompassing music project. Something that would touch on sight and sound. With The Soft Moon's self-titled LP from 2010 he set the tone: a band propelled by music that created a mood. Vocals are minimal, if not completely non-existent on a good portion of the album. With Zeros, Luis Vasquez has found the balance between song and mood. After the Suicide-fueled opener 'It Ends', 'Machines' comes in like Joy Division violated by Trent Reznor's 1989 production values. Vocals hissed more than sung over a menacing electronic beat with synth stabs coming in and out. Title track 'Zeros' has a 154-era Wire vibe with Vasquez's "Ahhs" echoing in the background. Gary Numan is haunting this track as well.
The (Pain)& Pleasure Principle.
'Insides' sounds as if The Soft Moon is lost inside a cavernous synth punk gorge, waiting to be devoured by the cold and dark as sunlight fades. The Cure's 'A Hundred Years', with a dash of dark humor for good measure. 'Remember The Future' is heavy on the flanged bass and bee buzz synth. Instrumental and propulsive, it's a great soundtrack for a midnight ride on the tram.
Each track encapsulates a feeling of isolation, claustrophobia, and a dizziness that once you're into a song for 30 seconds you can't see the light at the beginning or end. You're just in the song. At times this album is part soundtrack to a nightmare, and at times Eraserhead industrial noise with a Bauhaus afterglow. 'Crush', 'Die Life' and 'Lost Years' all are self-explanatory titles to what they contain within: a disco in purgatory. A dance club in post-apocalyptic Berlin. A beat that propels you to the brink.
This album isn't for the casual listener. You have to be comfortable with the dark side of post punk and new wave. Lots of bands as of late have taken to recreating the sounds of early 80s alternative and new wave. A few are doing a hell of a job with it, such as Wild Nothing, Diiv, Merchandise and Craft Spells. The Soft Moon can be put into that group, albeit in their own sub-category. They're not out to make it onto a John Hughes soundtrack. They're aiming for Wim Wenders, Alex Cox or Ridley Scott. Zeros aims for a tribal, primal and darkly sexual landscape. They hit the mark, over and over.
Soft Moon are not song based, they've stepped far beyond the need for mere words, dancing with illusionary sounds and image based chord changes, creating an immersion of undulating mid-tempo sexual offerings with shrouded muffled vocals that entice, whisper, and draw the listener in through layer after dense atmospheric layer, as if we were to get close enough to the sound, we'd receive all the answers to all the questions we could ever imagine.
The Soft Moon are both primal ... and they are the future.
Review by Jenell Kesler
Thought this new release might follow along the same vein as what I'd expect - but geez, it really blows my expectations far out into some black abyss. It's excellent and has plenty of variation. It's pretty intense and claustrophic but damn, when those two words are executed (no pun intended) perfectly, you can really sense it.
I love how the vocals are so low in the mix yet, you know they're there.
No sophomore slump here. I look forward to where The Soft Moon goes next...