As The Soft Moon, Luis Vasquez makes music as dark and incendiary as crude oil.
Vasquez’s supercharged hybrid of goth, krautrock and synth-pop first got an airing on 2010′s excellent The Soft Moon LP for NY label Captured Tracks. In contrast to the rash of moody and muggy bedroom recording projects emerging at the time, Vasquez’s labour of love was all about harsh textures and sharp edges. The same went for the project’s breakneck live incarnation, a stylish audiovisual assault featuring projected video montages and plenty of flashing lights.
Since his breakthrough, Vasquez has continued to refine the recipe for his toxic sonic moonshine. Last year’s Total Decay EP sounded even more shrill and relentless than the album which preceded it, and sophomore album Zeros – due next week on Captured Tracks – nudges things up another notch again. Smartened up in the studio by producer Monte Vallier, Zeros jettisons the gentler moments of The Soft Moon in favour of a taut, punchy, self-contained collection of rollicking darkwave rock ‘n roll. FACT got in touch with the Oakland resident to probe his “thoughts, fears, phobias and dreams”.
“My approach for Zeros was to be more conceptual, thematic, and visual. I wanted to tell a story from start to finish and have the songs relate to each other creating an evolution within the entire album and giving it a life of its own. The first LP was more spontaneous and less focused mainly because the songs were never intended to reach the public’s ears. Each song was just a different way to reach inside myself and pull out memories from the past. Total Decay was a chance for me to write something more radical and express some versatility without the pressure that comes with writing a full-length.”
Zeros is bookended by variations of the same track, there’s a recurrent preoccupation with past and future throughout… do you see the record as a more coherent entity than your previous releases?
“I look at Zeros more like a book, film, or an art installation. The first track on the album kinda feels like an opening scene impacting you in and mentally preparing you for what’s to come. The breathing with slowing heartbeat at the end of that track is to then bring you out of your consciousness and into the world of Zeros. I wasn’t concerned with writing ‘songs’ but rather painting images to create cinematic soundscapes. Zeros is the most visual music I feel I’ve ever created, which is why my sub-conscious decided to use recurring themes within it, kinda like characters in a book that pop in and out, but instead it’s my recurring thoughts, fears, phobias, and dreams that are all intertwined within the entire album.”