The Soft Moon shares industrial new single ‘Choke’

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The Soft Moon

credit: Marion Costentin

In anticipation of the release of his fourth studio album ‘Criminal’ (out Feb 2 via Sacred Bones), Berlin via Oakland artist The Soft Moon – aka Luis Vasquez – has shared heavy new industrial single Choke. This one’s a dance floor scorcher. Listen to it via YouTube below.

“I created Choke as a theme song to my recurring corruptive behavior,” Luis Vasquez explains of the song’s inspiration. “It’s emblematic of my sleepless nights, wandering the streets of Berlin like some paranoid animal, while capturing the unbearable sound of my pulsating heart deep inside my chest. Full of ego and full of fear at the same time”

The Soft Moon’s fourth studio album, ‘Criminal,’ is a confessional work. Through the stark lens of shame and guilt that has followed Luis Vasquez since a violent childhood growing up within the humming ambient sprawl of 80s Mojave Desert, here he documents the gut-wrenching sound of going to war with himself. Battling with his own sanity, self-hatred, insecurity, self-entitlement and grappling with the risk of these things transforming him into a person he despises, Vasquez has laid his feelings bare with this: his confession and most self-reflective work to date.

“Guilt is my biggest demon and has been following me since childhood. Everything I do strengthens the narrative that I am guilty” Vasquez reflects. “The concept of ‘’Criminal’’ is a desperate attempt to find relief by both confessing to my wrongdoings and by blaming others for their wrongdoings that have affected me.”

‘Criminal’ marks a striking and important chapter in his self-exploration, both artistically and emotionally. As a young musician living in Oakland, Vasquez began to try and process the narrative of his difficult upbringing veiled through musical exploration. Taking krautrock’s motorik beats and post-punk deconstructions and honing them into a hushed percussive incantation, The Soft Moon’s self-titled debut album took shape. The album was released in late 2010 by Captured Tracks and was praised by critics and emulated by contemporaries.

In 2012, the apocalyptic conceptual work of Zeros emerged, shortly followed by Vasquez moving to Venice, Italy in 2013, acting as a catalyst for 2014’s release, Deeper. While previous albums were primarily instrumental records, where Vasquez’s voice was diffused amidst the music as another instrument, Deeper marked the beginning of a new musical direction where vocals and lyrics became something more than a mere presence. Deeper was a descent into the womb of childhood trauma, anxiety and fear, and although Vasquez survived this dark exploration of himself, he did not return alone.

Working once more with Maurizio Baggio, who produced Deeper, at La Distilleria in Bassano Del Grappa, Italy, ‘Criminal’ sees Vasquez further explore putting his lyrics at the forefront and letting his raw emotions flow. The album begins with a confrontation with his true self through the torrid bass lines and searing vocals of “Burn”; a song evoking a loss of control akin to demonic possession, stating: “Eyes, reflecting the person that I am, and it burns”. In this track, Vasquez’s guilt bores deeper and deeper into a condemnation that ultimately is: “Fire, hell is where I’ll go to live, so I burn”.

Burn” is followed by the caustic bass, mechanized rhythms, and numbing emulsions of “Choke,” a song about the amplifying and anesthetizing effect of cocaine, a drug whose darker side Vasquez is not unfamiliar with. The next track “Give Something” is a subterranean love song from the deepest depths, with harrowingly despondent lyrics, seeking hope in a sea of shame.

The album continues its thematic inner conflict in the Industrial/EBM percussion and distorted high attack bass of “Like a Father”, a song reflecting Vasquez’s anger towards the father that abandoned him.

“This head is a problem/You’re the ghost of my problem/Something’s got to give”, pleads Vasquez as revving guitars invoke chainsaws before the song’s final lines search for closure: to kill the father within himself.

The album closes with title track “Criminal”; a despondent resignation to guilt; bereft, broken, and bruised, with lyrics that confess: “It’s the way I cross the line, it’s the way I open, it’s the way to my decline, it’s the way I’m broken. The song, like the album itself, is Vasquez’s way of holding himself accountable and seeking redemption for the abuse he inflicts on himself, and acknowledges roots in the abuse which, inflicted upon him as a child, broke him.

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Criminal tracklist

1. Burn
2. Choke
3. Give Something
4. Like a Father
5. The Pain
6. It Kills
7. ILL
8. Young
9. Born Into This
10. Criminal

Pre-order The Soft Moon – ‘Criminal’ here: hyperurl.co/TSMCriminal

The Soft Moon embarks on his 2018 tour in February with a month-long US run with Boy Harsher starting in March. Tour dates and more information below.

The Soft Moon 2018 tour dates

02/02 – Baden, CH – One of a Million Festival
02/03 – Marghera, IT – C.S. Rivolta
02/06 – Copenhagen, DK – Pumpehuset %
02/07 – Gothenburg, SE – Pustervik %
02/08 – Stockholm, SE – Slaktkyrkan %
02/09 – Oslo, NO – Bla %
02/10 – The Hague, NL – Grauzone Festival
02/11 – Berlin, DE – Urban Spree
02/12 – Berlin, DE – Urban Spree
02/13 – Berlin, DE – Urban Spree #
02/14 – Paris, FR – Le Trabendo #
02/15 – Amsterdam, NL – Paradiso Noord #
02/16 – London, UK – The Dome #
02/17 – Brussels, BE – Orangerie (Botanique) #
02/18 – Luxembourg, LU – De Gudde Wëllen #
02/20 – Yverdon Les Bains, CH – L’Amalgame #
02/21 – Milan, IT – Magnolia #
02/22 – Rome, IT – Monk #
02/23 – Napoli, IT – Lanificio #
02/24 – Bologna, IT – Covo #
03/07 – Munich, DE – Kranhalle §
03/08 – Leipzig, DE – UT Connewitz §
03/09 – Hamburg, DE – Hafenklang §
03/10 – Cologne, DE – Gebaude 9 §
03/11 – Saarbrucken, DE – Garage Club §
03/13 – Nijmegen, NL – Doomroosje §
03/14 – Lille, FR – Les Paradis Artificiels §
03/15 – Nantes, FR – Stereolux §
03/16 – Lyon, FR – Epicerie Moderne §
03/27 – Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s *
03/28 – Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg *
03/29 – Montreal, QC – Theatre Fairmount *
03/30 – Toronto, ON – Longboat Hall *
03/31 – Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle *
04/02 – Saint Paul, MN – Turf Club *
04/04 – Denver, CO – Larimer Lounge *
04/06 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios *
04/07 – Seattle, WA – The Crocodile
04/08 – Vancouver, BC – BIltmore Cabaret *
04/11 – San Francisco, CA – The Independent
04/13 – Los Angeles, CA – Teragram Ballroom
04/14 – San Diego, CA – Casbah *
04/16 – Las Vegas, NV – The Bunkhouse *
04/17 – Phoenix, AZ – Valley Bar *
04/19 – Dallas, TX – Three Links *
04/20 – Austin, TX – Barracuda *
04/21 – San Antonio, TX – Paper Tiger *
04/22 – New Orleans, LA – Gasa Gasa *
04/24 – Gainesville, FL – The Wooly *
04/25 – Miami, FL – Gramps *
04/26 – Tampa, FL – The Crowbar *
04/27 – Atlanta, GA – Aisle 5 *
04/28 – Asheville, NC – The Mothlight *
04/29 – Washington, DC – DC9 *

% w/ MATTEO VALLICELLI
# w/ SARIN
§ w/ HELM
* w/ BOY HARSHER