We’re kind of having a huge CA freak out here that one of our favourite artists, The Soft Moon, have announced his signing to New York record label Sacred Bones. He also announced his 4th studio album ‘Criminal,’ which will be out on February 2, 2018. If that wasn’t enough, the former Oakland-based, now Berlin, musician also shared lead track Burn, which you can take a listen to below (don’t worry, he doesn’t disappoint).
‘Criminal’, The Soft Moon’s fourth studio album, 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 Vasquezs 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 songs 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 others, and acknowledges roots in the abuse which, inflicted upon him as a child, broke him.
Pre-order ‘Criminal’ here: https://thesoftmoon.bandcamp.com/album/criminal
3. Give Something
4. Like a Father
5. The Pain
6. It Kills
9. Born Into This
The Soft Moon is set to perform a select number of live dates this month, including Sacred Bones 10th Anniversary show in Los Angeles on Saturday, October 21st at Cloak and Dagger Festival alongside Sacred Bones artists Lust For Youth, Uniform, Moon Duo, and more, as well as dates in San Francisco, Chicago, and Brooklyn Full itinerary below, tickets available at http://www.thesoftmoon.com/#live.
The Soft Moon tour dates
10/19 – San Francisco, CA – Mezzanine *
10/21 – Los Angeles, CA – Cloak and Dagger (Sacred Bones 10th Anniversary)
10/22 – Chicago, IL – The Empty Bottle #
10/24 – Brooklyn, NY – Rough Trade NYC §
10/27 – Athens, Greece – F.O.S. Festival
11/9 – Utrecht, Netherlands – Le Guess Who? Festival
11/10 – Kortrijk, Belgium – Sonic City Festival
* w/ Lust For Youth
# w/ Matteo Vallicelli