Tuesday, 25 January 2011

REVIEW: The Soft Moon - The Soft Moon

Since the moon is hanging high, bright and full enough to read by tonight (at least it was when I wrote this) it seems pertinent to post about a band called The Soft Moon.

My KINGS buddy tipped me off to these; an excellent San Francisco band whose self-titled album was released on Captured Tracks (home of Wild Nothing, Beach Fossils and Thee Oh Sees), in November, pressed on suitably blood red vinyl.  If you felt cheated out of the last Interpol record, or thought they should really be stepping it up, The Soft Moon have strode in to overshadow your distress. The band seems to be the creation of one Luis Vasquez, but live shots look like they're a duo. Luis Vasquez is a perfect name for someone producing music as lean, mean and leather clad sounding as this.I think it's safe to say that they're going to be one of the bands of the year to keep an eye on. You can almost hear the volume and intensity screaming out of this shot:

The album is a darkly aggressive mix of Neu! and Joy Division, echoing each of those bands in equal measure - krautrock envisioned as chamber music.  Adding shades of Factory Floor in the industrial motorik pulse their tracks thrust along to adds an extra level of aggressive texture, and the swathes of noise that eat up the instruments (Primal Eyes, Dead Love..well, nearly all actually) add more than a shade in fact, some of the tracks could go strobe-to-strobe with the Londoners nihilistic peaks and I'm wondering whether I can handle two bands like that in my life at once - three bands if you add to that list shoegaze revivalists A Place To Bury Strangers, which the bassline to the intimidating opener Breathe The Fire and echoing snare of Primal Eyes reminds me of as much as the firestorms of feedback and distortion that follow it. 

Guitar and synth tones regularly swap places, eating in to each other in one track, flying side by side in streamlined unity in another; vocals buried into the mix distorted through a veil of delay and reverb recall the gothic heartbeat of the most fiery Bunnymen tracks - my first response to their name on hearing the music was Killing..... , then the added banshee wailing backing vocals that emerge when the tracks start tearing themselves apart, voices from the other side stream through the rifts (When It's Over, Dead Love).  There is never too much vocal in any of the tracks, their appearance kept to a minimum that enhances the creepiness when they do rise up out of the musical carnage - especially the heavy panting in Sewer Sickness which also borrows the grimy street synth of Suicide, consuming itself in a howling storm of feedback and fx just the other side of the centre of the record  - a deadly place to drop a track like that, a real boost where lesser albums serve up a lull.

The tri-colour geometry of their Mondrian and Bauhaus inspired artwork stamps their foot unceremoniously into the artrock camp, but that's no dig, this is music much too guttural and dirty, lowslung, and feral to be housed in glass. There's a starkness about the sound, a severity that drags something primal out of the listener in response to the challenge of it, and I'm pretty certain their live shows will be spectacular.

This is the video to accompany the mesmeric pulse of Circles. Got clap beats, got bassline in yr face, got tornado of noise in the breakdown, then pops back out nastier than when it went in. The video only serves to enhance it all. Incredible.


  1. I love this album too! I would like to recommend "Out of Phase" by The Oscillation as another nice set of tunes in the same vein.

  2. Thanks Bur, will check that band out. Can they be as good as this?