Release Date: Oct 30, 2012
Record label: Captured Tracks
Fittingly released near Halloween, the Soft Moon's second album, Zeros, maintains the darkness of Luis Vasquez's first album and the Total Decay EP, but also reveals a newfound sleekness and directness to his music. Even on songs such as the album opener, "It Ends," which closes with panicked gasps and telltale heartbeats, there's a spareness that feels fresh and distinct to this album (and especially compared to Total Decay's noise-fest). Zeros' more minimal feel may or may not be due to the fact that Vasquez wrote most of these songs while on the road, later recruiting producer Monte Vallier to help flesh them out and give them more shape.
The music of Soft Moon record number two, Zeros, isn’t far off from its self-titled 2010 predecessor, though the conditions under which it was recorded certainly are. Bandleader Luis Vasquez wrote and recorded The Soft Moon the way many unknown indie musicians do—in anonymity and personal solitude. And following the narrative of the indie musician lucky enough to have people catch on, Vasquez was able to recruit a band and go on tour, which is where and how Zeros came to fruition.
After recording his 2010 self-titled Soft Moon debut alone in his home, Oakland multi-instrumentalist Luis Vasquez put together a band, got some appropriately dark visuals, and went on tour. Then he holed up and recorded the 2011 Total Decay EP, again by his lonesome. A year later, you might think he'd bring along his road-tested band for the sophomore album, Zeros, but no, he stuck to the same process outside of a solitary trip to Monte Vallier's Ruminator Audio studio after six months of arranging the record in his apartment.
The Soft Moon’s sophomore album Zeroes is an experimentation in industrial sound that doesn’t fully hit the mark. At times, you are able to lose yourself to the layering of apocalyptic sound. And at others, you can become distracted by the urgency of the synthesizers, droning vocals or anxiety-laden tones. Surely, you will need to witness Zeroes in a live setting to fully experience the sensory effects Luis Vasquez was aiming to encapsulate.
Stark and gothic, minimalist and chilling… Well into the dark throes of a machined disco groove, Luis Vazquez, creative presence behind The Soft Moon, throws his voice into every imagined corner of Machines, projecting whispers as the bass melody is picked and an unsettling sneer burns a frown into the expanse. Zeros, the latest Soft Moon album to emerge from Vazquez, with the aid of producer Monte Vallier, retains the sleek, ghostly tinges and darkly ominous tonality often brought to mind by Joy Division and even 154 era Wire. One could call Vazquez’s approach a tad cliché as he makes no real attempt to modernize or even really own the sound he relishes, which is a decades’ old combination of synth pop tweaks, dance-inducing tempo and icy guitar licks.
A few years back there was a brief uproar in the media over the addictiveness of a well-known energy drink and the hallucinatory effects of its caffeine/taurine content in tired commuters. This story came to mind when listening to Zeros, the new album from The Soft Moon; imagine having said drink slipped into your morning coffee and then putting Fuck Buttons on. .
Don't be fooled by their name. There's nothing cuddly or gentle about the Soft Moon. On the San Francisco five-piece's second full-length album, they go straight for the jugular, delivering 10 tracks of cold, unrelenting post-punk that fans of Bauhaus and Joy Division will enjoy. Oakland's Luis Vasquez started the band as a solo project, and Zeros marks his first time working with an engineer and producer.
Starting from zero can either be a beginning or an end. The latest release from San Francisco psych-drone wonder Luis Vasquez, better known as The Soft Moon, straddles the duality with his sophomore album, Zeros. Yet Vasquez leans toward the latter, with Zeros building a succinct homage to the curious notion of decay, leaving grime to accumulate underneath fingernails and a score to the corrupt, blind city as a backdrop to it all.
‘Zeros’, the Soft Moon’s second album, is a logical and meticulous refinement of the distinctive sound that the band showcased on their critically lauded, self-titled debut album a couple of years ago. It’s like the band has poured their menacing, motorik drone through a purifier on ‘Zeros’. The echoic wisps and nebulous smoke clouds from their first album have been significantly dialled-back, resulting in a more taut, wiry sound that feels both more focussed and more sinister.‘It Ends’ is a buzzing drill of an opening track that acts as a familiar reintroduction to the band before it casts you into an abyss of clangourous guitars, snapping snares and disorienting synths.
Zeros is vampire rock. The rain-slicked precipice of darkness. Icy keyboard laser beams shocking life into dead flesh. Shattering, panic-attack drum-machines on the brink of self-destruction. Guitars like creeping neurosis. "It Ends" scrapes off tattered metal, "Die Life" blisters in mottled bass ….
San Francisco-based artist Luis Vasquez is the man behind Soft Moon, a project known for lo-fi, hypnotic synth beats that reference the bleakness of Joy Division. That sound dominated Soft Moon’s self-titled debut album, released late last year, and sophomore album Zeros carries on that sonic theme. Zeros starts with full intensity: Clapping synths, heavy breathing and robotic heartbeats intertwine in the opening track, “It Ends.” What starts as a fierce introduction melts into more dance-oriented tracks with a definite hint of something ’80s in the air.