Music Reviews

The Soft Moon Zeros

(Captured Tracks) Rating - 7/10

Stark and gothic, minimalist and chilling…  Well into the dark throes of a machined disco groove, Luis Vazquez, creative presence behind The Soft Moon, throws his voice into every imagined corner of Machines, projecting whispers as the bass melody is picked and an unsettling sneer burns a frown into the expanse. 

Zeros, the latest Soft Moon album to emerge from Vazquez, with the aid of producer Monte Vallier, retains the sleek, ghostly tinges and darkly ominous tonality often brought to mind by Joy Division and even 154 era Wire.  One could call Vazquez’s approach a tad cliché as he makes no real attempt to modernize or even really own the sound he relishes, which is a decades’ old combination of synth pop tweaks, dance-inducing tempo and icy guitar licks. Within seconds of the album’s intro, It Ends, you get a generous smattering of machined snare beats, dance pulses and a blanket of heavily synthesized tones.  You could consider it an overture in terms of Vazquez’s medium(s), the breadth of his capabilities and the intent of his efforts explained within its almost two-minute length.  The title track also demonstrates this evocative attention to classic detail, crafting college radio homage as well as a salute to early Alternative-centric MTV. 

Still, a song like Insides, whose synthesizer notes dance atop an almost visual field of electro-shriek, is cool enough to consider worthwhile.  Though The Soft Moon capitalizes on and attempts to retrofit Factory-gothic dance tracks, you can at least point to Zeros as a competent facsimile, nostalgic and respectful.  The persistent and distancing Remember The Future, the eerie automation of Die Life and the developmental tension of Crush seem to fashion themselves a hyper-stylized storyline or environment, something either time or place specific that could house The Soft Moon’s penchant for electro-induced chill. 

There is a cool factor to Zeros that seems to transcend a hipness quota, a natural blankness that’s almost character-driven. Its intensity has style, whatever Zeros lacks in substance or license, and an enjoyably infectious pulse that’s consistent up until the final bits of backwards sound rotates during ƨbnƎ ƚI, the second iteration of the album’s introduction, which brings Zeros full circle in a literal sense.

Kind of like a zero.