By Mark Jenkins
Friday, January 18, 2013
Heavily electronic, the Soft Moon’s music features synthesized riffs, whacks and swoops of the sort that resound through rave clubs. Yet the second album from this California one-man-band, “Zeros,” isn’t exactly dance music. Luis Vasquez’s style is kinetic, but the motions it evokes are jogging, chugging or gliding. The cadences recall the “motorik” rhythm of such 1970s German art-rock outfits as Neu! and Kraftwerk.
Vasquez is a home-recording ace who thinks in terms of psychedelic production gambits. “Zeros” opens with “It Ends,” a short, brisk fanfare; it closes with the same piece, both played and titled backwards. To tour after the first Soft Moon album, Vasquez supplemented his guitar and synths with a conventional rock-band lineup: bassist, drummer and keyboardist. Those musicians don’t appear here, but the album moves toward a more song-oriented style. Such tracks as “Insides” and “Crush” feature vocal melodies, although the lyrics are largely a mystery. Vasquez’s voice is heavily echoed and submerged within the overall sound.
Whatever Vasquez is singing, the dark timbres and minor keys suggest that it’s not cheery. Yet even songs with titles such as “Die Life” are too lively to be downers. “Zeros” is bedroom-studio music that’s eager to go out for a run.