The Soft Moon
Container, UNIFORM, Carson Cox as Video Blue
1140 Myrtle Ave
Brooklyn, NY, 11237
This event is all ages
The Soft Moon
Luis Vasquez never intended for The Soft Moon to reach the public's ears; for him, music has always been about self-actualization rather than self- aggrandizement. Nevertheless, the bleak, hushed sounds he created years ago in his small Oakland apartment bubbled to the surface and 2010 saw his debut LP, The Soft Moon, released on Captured Tracks rise to critical acclaim. Pitchfork's 8.1 review stated that Vasquez made "oblivion seems like an enticing prospect" and, indeed, listeners were immediately drawn into his murky musical wasteland, swathed in the moody atmospheres of jagged dark wave and wayfaring post-punk. For them, and for Vasquez, there was no turning back. The Total Decay EP and Zeros emerged soon after, and then Vasquez returned with The Soft Moon's most introspective and focused album to date: Deeper.
Following live line-up changes and a lull in the The Soft Moon's constant touring schedule, the year 2013 found Luis Vasquez lost in the void. Though he fatalistically stated that 2012's Zeros would be the last album where he was the sole songwriter, Vasquez realized that The Soft Moon has always been one man's vision. Over time, it's been the one place where Vasquez can express himself, totally and singularly, on his own terms.
Thus, in July of 2013, Vasquez decamped from Oakland, CA to Venice, Italy, unsure of where The Soft Moon would land. While Zeros was written and recorded between long days on the road, Deeper was begat from an almost primal urge to recoil from the world and experience total solitude. During the writing process, Vasquez pushed himself to discover the reality and nightmare of living with yourself, in entirely foreign surroundings with nothing and no one to fall back on.
Stepping back and letting inspiration fall where it may, Vasquez only had one goal in mind for his third album: to pen his most emotional record yet. Between frequent visits to Berlin, Vasquez retreated to Venice's Hate Studios, located in the mountains near electronic guru and spiritual anchor Giorgio Moroder's hometown.
At Hate, he worked for almost a year with producer Maurizio Baggio to piece together Deeper, only completing the album in August 2014. While maintaining the stark sonic formula so indicative of The Soft Moon's music -- that bass that reeks of chorus, those unrelenting, mechanized beats, that wailing synthesizer and those eerily, angular guitar lines that worm into your ears and never leave-- Baggio also worked to refine the album's gothic palette, leaving Vasquez to concentrate more intensely on songwriting and singing than ever before:
"I've never worked so closely with someone before. Working with Maurizio felt right and I completely opened up to him during the entire process. I finally felt the urge to express myself more verbally with this record and I was able to focus more on songwriting rather than just experimenting with soundscapes."
The voice of The Soft Moon has never been more clear and honest than it is on this record. With eerie, immersive tracks like the dogged "Far" and slow, beautifully melancholic "Wasting" (the first track written for Deeper), the album is a penetrating portrait of Vasquez as he wrestles thoughts of suicide, vulnerability and what it means to heal. By facing the most hopeless parts of himself without illusion and putting his past demons to bed, the creation of Deeper was an intense personal exploration of existence for Vasquez -- old wounds were forcibly opened, deep anger and paranoia were manipulated into song -- and he did not emerge unchanged. Deeper may have delivered Vasquez back to the waking world, but it willingly drags us further into The Soft Moon's dark, euphonic universe once more.
Uniform formed in New York City in late 2013 when old friends Ben Greenberg (Hubble, The Men, Pygmy Shrews) and Michael Berdan (York Factory Complaint, Drunkdriver, Believer/Law) realized they lived on the same street. Their impulsive collaboration quickly yielded Our Blood / Of Sound Mind and Body single. The six tracks that comprise the equally abrasive but more refined Perfect World have been coming together between tours and work ever since.
The music that Greenberg and Berdan conjure up under the Uniform moniker is immediate, aggressive, and even primal in form, but it plumbs untold depths. Berdan’s venomous voice mines deeply personal themes of resentment, regret, reflection and addiction over the hum of Greenberg’s almost impossibly disciplined guitar, bass synth, and drum machine lines. Greenberg uses the word “templatized” to describe their approach to writing songs for Uniform.
“There’s this set bunch of gear to create sounds, and it only creates sound through a certain process, or within its own limitations,” Greenberg said. “The goal of songwriting is to see how many different kinds of sounds you can get from the same basic process and machine.”
On Perfect World, that machine is firing on all cylinders. The guitar is run through a cheap ’80s preamp marketed to metal kids. The drum machine is equally no-frills, an Akai XR20 that Greenberg says “most people wouldn’t want to keep around.”
These humble components are combined with noisy synth and Berdan’s profound howling to form something much greater. Post-punk, synthpunk, and industrial traditions are borrowed from as needed, but the constraints placed on the process mean the result is unique to Uniform. Berdan describes his lyrics as the consequence of feeling “so full of pain, confusion, deep selfishness, and general animosity that you make some horrible mistakes and have to learn how to forgive yourself for them.” Perfect World feels like the sum of all that pain and confusion, but it also feels like the catharsis.
Carson Cox as Video Blue
Carson Cox as Video Blue