The Soft Moon Will Unsettle You Politely Tonight at Milk Bar
Luis Vasquez sounds like a calm, well-adjusted person over the phone -- and this is something of a surprise, because the music of Vasquez's debut album as The Soft Moon winds its way through panoramas of fear, paranoia, apprehension, and darkness. It's not as overtly gloomy as, say, much of Joy Division's catalog, but the buzzing synths, whispered vocals, linear compositions, and hissy noise littered throughout easily supply the impression that they were made by some black-fingernailed recluse.
Luis Vasquez, aka The Soft Moon
Vasquez had written early versions of some of the songs on last year's debut album back in 1999. He let them sit for nearly a decade, then revisited them, re-recorded a few, and put them on a Myspace page for friends to hear. Vasquez was only a couple of weeks away from taking down that Myspace page when he got a message from Mike Sniper, a New York musician who runs the Captured Tracks label and wanted to put out a Soft Moon record. "I wasn't going to go any further with it," Vasquez explains. "When he was interested in it, I felt like okay, maybe this is something bigger."
There's a lot of broken down homes, and it's desert, and there's this kind of industrial area, so it felt very post-apocalyptic. I realized that I was surrounded by mountains ... and so that also kind of creates a feeling of paranoia in a way. There's also areas where you could see the horizon, you could see forever, so there's also where that kind of infinitism comes into play in the music.
But despite all the comparisons to Bauhaus and Sisters of Mercy, Vasquez says he's no dedicated adherent of dark music. "I grew up listening to a lot of Afro-Cuban stuff, being Cuban myself," he says. "There was a period of my life where I listened to a lot of jazz and then punk-rock, of course. But I never really dove deep into the dark stuff." Vasquez calls himself "a super optimisic person" -- "I thrive on hope," he says -- but says some of the fear and anxiety in his songs comes from deep inside him.
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