The Soft Moon
“I created ‘Choke’ as a theme song to my recurring corruptive behavior—emblematic of my sleepless nights, wandering the streets of Berlin like some paranoid animal. Full of ego and full of fear at the same time.”
So says Luis Vasquez, artistically known as The Soft Moon, of the third single off his fourth and latest album, the tellingly titled Criminal. The track is nothing but portentous, with thundering, repetitive drums that could easily be soundtracking a blitzkrieg, and a ghostly Vasquez chanting, “I live high / Down with life / Take your time / Crush me right.”
The Soft Moon trades skillfully in this sort of industrial menace—Nitzer Ebb’s hammer-aesthetics, with a bit of Al Jourgensen’s sense of fear and foreboding. Indeed, opening track “Burn,” with its distorted guitars, throbbing synths, and Vasquez’s mantra of “I can’t control myself,” feels like that moment just before a twenty-car pile up.
The reference points are not surprising for him. Seriously eerie “Give Something,” with its strange Cabaret Voltaire–style musical distortions, finds him confessing, “When I’m on my own, I could give up the ghost / ’cause I don’t want to lose my mind, it’s why I keep you so close.” At least he’s being honest, if also distinctly unsettling. “It Kills” employs over-flanged guitars and ominously galloping drums to deftly recall the Banshees at their most maleficent.
The relentlessly caliginous “Young” is the album’s chilling death march, and probably should have been its closer. But the title track ends it all on a decidedly funereal note, with its seemingly sardonic morality incantations of, “Chase me, drag me down, criminal / Hold me, chain me down, criminal.” The Soft Moon is, in a sense, the new gothic for a new century—paranoid, solitary, and powerfully visceral. Listen with care.