Luis Vasquez, aka The Soft Moon, over the course of two full-length albums, one ep, and several singles has gone and made his own little musical world where there’s very little light. Up to this point his music consists of a mix of gothic post-punk, dark techno, and the sound of a club remix of Pornography-era Cure songs. Even though vocally the most you get out of Vasquez is pants, wheezes, and yelps, you still get the feeling that the music he makes is incredibly personal to him. The Soft Moon is the sound of an underground Berlin night club in the early 80s. It’s tense, dark, sexual, and primal.
Luis Vasquez’ new album as The Soft Moon is called Deeper, and it lives up to its name. It’s just as dark as previous albums, but more focused on emotions other than desire. This album feels like Luis Vasquez is working through some things in his life. The wheezes and yelps are quelled by Vasquez’ actual singing voice. Musically it’s still very visceral and primal, but Deeper feels more confessional. It’s the best Soft Moon album yet.
It’s very suiting that this record opens with a wavering mound of noise called “Inward”, as that’s where this album takes us. “Inward” to “Black”, we are treated to a sound that Trent Reznor wishes he could get back to. This album is the most NIN-like that The Soft Moon has gotten to. If I had to compare it to a NIN album, I’d say The Fragile. Like Mr. Reznor’s darkly confessional opus, Deeper is a brooding and bruised journal entry in Vasquez’ life. But unlike Trent Reznor’s near-death experience of an album, The Soft Moon’s confessional opus feels oddly healthy. Therapeutic, even. “Far” is a fast-paced Tram ride into the night. Staring out the window to traces of light and wall. I hate to beat a dead horse, but The Soft Moon still remind me of classic early-80s Cure. The flanged bass and guitar really do it. At times this great song also brings to mind Oliver Ackermann’s A Place To Bury Strangers, albeit with less ear-bleeding. “Wasting” sounds like a drop into the abyss, as guitar, keys, and bass echo into the darkness. Vasquez starts out singing, but his voice trails off into and endless delay. He sounds like he’s disintegrating as the rhythm picks up and his voice comes back into focus.
On previous records, Vasquez hinted at sounds that resembled NIN. I think The Soft Moon’s sound is a kindred spirit to Trent Reznor’s noise-making prowess; while at the same time not aping or copying. Luis Vasquez has a very unique style that mixes dark techno, post-punk, and Gothic bands like Bauhaus, Joy Division, and The Cure. His music isn’t nearly as claustrophobic as Reznor’s compressed insanity. “Wrong” is a perfect example of that. With the robotic voice, industrial groove, and bubbling synths, you get the feeling of Kraftwerk being remixed by Reznor. It’s clean and precise, but still jagged, rough, and sweat-inducing. Vasquez also adds an Afro-Cuban flair in the percussive heartbeat. Title track “Deeper” is another example of the tribal and primal percussion that Vasquez has woven into this new album. It’s heavy, intense, and very sexual.
Elsewhere, “Try” brings that flanged bass back with Vasquez’ longing vocals, “Desertion” pulsates with a bass-heavy rhythm, and “Without” is a piano-driven ballad, bringing to mind NINs “Something I Can Never Have”. “Feel” is classicist post-punk groove. A great Gothic dance track, something that would’ve fit nicely on Cocteau Twins’ Garlands. “Being” opens with the sound of a tape recorder being played, rewound, and re-played as Vasquez’ voice repeats “I can’t see my face, I don’t know who I am.” Musically the song is driving and intense.
I think The Soft Moon set out to make a more personal, inward-looking album and Luis Vasquez succeeded in that. Deeper is every bit as dark, intense, and brooding as previous albums. But at the core of this record is a heart that seems to have been hurt. Deeper is the process of healing, and the search for light at the end of a very dark, winding tunnel.
8.8 out of 10