Tag: The Soft Moon (Page 1 of 2)

Introducing JAKUZI

Like THE SOFT MOON meeting THE CURE, Istanbul-based JAKUZI released their debut album ‘Fantezi Müzik’ in 2017.

Their music made an impression within the local underground art movement, addressing the sort of personal psychological and mental health issues not known for public discussion in Turkish society.

Crossing haunting synth sounds with guitars for some moody electronically assisted gothic rock, their outsider viewpoint is exemplified by ‘Sana Göre Bir Şey Yok’.

Meaning “Nothing For You”, it is the opening track of their recently released second album entitled ‘Hata Payı’, which translated as “Tolerance”, is a concept record of sorts dealing with the acceptance of community and oneself.

An earlier single ‘Şüphe’ takes the aural template further, adding swathes of synths to an already dense atmosphere while vocalist Kutay Soyocak gives an assured performance in Turkish that reflects the introspective nature of JAKUZI, an emotion not widely accepted within their domestic music scene.

But the long player’s best song is ‘Toz’, a number that owes more than a declaration of ‘Brotherhood’ to NEW ORDER and which despite its gloomy spectre, has an uplifting brightness penetrating through. That optimism is reflected in the accompanying video for ‘Toz’.

Set in an empty house and directed by Eli Kasavi, he explained: “It’s connected to the band’s previous video ‘Şüphe’ where the main character watched a dancing couple with a feeling of doubt. That character has left that place now and is dancing by himself.”

While ‘Gördüğüm Rüya’ does cheekily flirt with THE ROLLING STONES within its intro riff, it is with brooding melodic new wave like ‘Kalbim Köprü Gibi’ and ‘Bir Şey Olur’ that JAKUZI ply their trade, while the enjoyable synthbass heavy instrumental ‘Hâlâ Berbat’ adds another string to their bow. JAKUZI’s familiar reference points may additionally appeal to fans of THE SISTERS OF MERCY, SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES and even cult Swedish band LUSTANS LAKEJER.

Kutay Soyocak said: “I think my melancholy comes partly from where I live. This can be seen in the lyrics. I sometimes feel dark, lost and lonely as everyone. Here, the economy and politics make me feel hopeless sometimes. The future seems blurry but we try to keep our hopes high and continuing what we do.’’


‘Hata Payı’ is released by City Slang, available as a CD, vinyl LP and download direct from https://jakuzi.bandcamp.com/

https://www.jakuz1.com/

https://www.facebook.com/jakuz1/

https://twitter.com/_jakuzi_

https://www.instagram.com/jakuz1/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/0xeyL5pfnTtx7LGpqLo4PG


Text by Chi Ming Lai
11th April 2019

TEC’s 2018 End Of Year Review

2018 saw JEAN-MICHEL JARRE celebrate 50 years in the business and whether the world really needed another of his compilations, ‘Planet Jarre’ was probably one of the better collected representations of his work for casual admirers.

But not standing still and releasing his fourth new album in three years, ‘Equinoxe Infinity’ continued the story as the French Maestro tuned 70.

SOFT CELL made a totally unexpected return for a huge one-off farewell gig at London’s O2 Arena; and with it came a boxed set, the ‘Northern Lights’ single and other new recordings which have raised hopes for a new album.

From the same era, FIAT LUX announced plans for their debut album ‘Save Symmetry’ with an excellent lead track ‘It’s You’, while B-MOVIE came up with their most synth-propelled single yet in ‘Stalingrad’.

But one act who actually did comeback with a brand new album in 2018 were DUBSTAR; now a duo of Sarah Blackwood and Chris Wilkie, as ‘One’ they reminded audiences as to why they were the acceptable face of Britpop with their bridge to Synth Britannia.

IONNALEE finally released her debut opus ‘Everyone Afraid To Be Forgotten’ and her tour which included choice cuts from IAMAMIWHOAMI, proved to be one of the best value-for-money live experiences in 2018, one that was even endorsed by Welsh songstress Charlotte Church.

CHVRCHES offered up their third album ‘Love Is Dead’ and continued their role as international flagwavers for quality synthpop, while EMIKA presented her best album yet in ‘Falling In Love With Sadness’, an exquisite electronic record with a Bohemian aura.

JOHN GRANT was on an artistic roll both solo and in partnership with WRANGLER as CREEP SHOW with two new albums. However, he was beaten by Neil Arthur who managed three albums over a 12 month period as NEAR FUTURE and BLANCMANGE including ‘Wanderlust’, possibly the latter’s best body of work in its 21st Century incarnation.

It was a busy year for STEVE JANSEN with a new solo ambient work ‘Corridor’, the well-received vinyl reissue of JAPAN’s two Virgin-era studio albums and his epic, more organically flavoured band project EXIT NORTH with their debut long player ‘Book Of Romance & Dust’.

SARAH NIXEY went on some ‘Night Walks’ for her best solo album yet, a wonderful collection of everything she had ever been musically all wonderfully rolled into one.

Meanwhile TRACEY THORN went back to the ‘Dancefloor’ with her ‘Record’ which content wise was right up there with some of ALISON MOYET’s electronica output from the last five years.

Those who liked their electronic music darker were well served with NINE INCH NAILS, IAMX, KIRLIAN CAMERA and HELIX, but after experimenting with the single only format for a few years, Daniel Graves announced he was taking the plunge again with a new AESTHETIC PERFECTION album.

The Sacred Bones stable provided some quality releases from THE SOFT MOON, HILARY WOODS, ZOLA JESUS and JOHN CARPENTER. Meanwhile, providing some fierce socio-political commentary on the state of the UK was GAZELLE TWIN.

Hungary’s BLACK NAIL CABARET offered some noirish ‘Pseudopop’ and promising Norwich youngsters LET’S EAT GRANDMA got more deeply into electronica without losing any of their angsty teenage exuberance on their second album ‘I’m All Ears’.

Less intense and more dreamy were GLASSHOUSE, the new duo fronted by former TECHNIQUE singer Xan Tyler.

Aussies CONFIDENCE MAN provided some wacky dancey glitz to the pop world and after nearly four decades in the business, Canadian trailblazers RATIONAL YOUTH finally played their first ever concert in London at ‘Non Stop Electronic Cabaret’ alongside dark wave compatriots PSYCHE and Numan-influenced Swedish poptronica exponents PAGE.

Sweden was again highly productive with KARIN PARK, JOHAN BAECKSTRÖM, TRAIN TO SPAIN and VAL SOLO while Norway took their own approach with FARAOSOFT AS SNOW and ELECTRO SPECTRE setting their standard. Veteran Deutschlanders THE TWINS and PETER HEPPNER returned with new albums after notable recorded absences while next door in Belgium, METROLAND presented themselves as ‘Men In A Frame’.

While the new HEAVEN 17 album ‘Not For Public Broadcast’ is still to be finished, Glenn Gregory teamed by with live keyboardist Berenice Scott as AFTERHERE. Their long-time friend Claudia Brücken performed as xPROPAGANDA with Susanne Freytag and partnered up with one-time TANGERINE DREAM member Jerome Froese, releasing the ‘Beginn’ album in the process.

It was a year of interesting collaborations all-round with UNDERWORLD working with Iggy Pop, U96 linking up with Wolfgang Flür for an excellent single called ‘Zukunftsmusik’ and German techno pioneer CHRIS LIEBING recruiting POLLY SCATTERGOOD and GARY NUMAN for his Mute released album ‘Burn Slow’.

Based in Berlin, THE KVB offered up some brooding gothic moods with ‘Only Now Forever’ while Valerie Renay of NOBLESSE OBLIGE released her first solo album ‘Your Own Shadow’.

Highly appealing were a number of quirky Japanese influenced female artists from around the globe including COMPUTER MAGIC, MECHA MAIKO and PLASMIC. But there were also a number of acts with Far Eastern heritage like STOLEN, FIFI RONG, DISQO VOLANTE and SHOOK who continued to make a worthy impression with their recorded output in 2018.

Heavy synth rock duo NIGHT CLUB presented their ‘Scary World’ on the back of tours opening for COMBICHRIST and A PERFECT CIRCLE while also from across the pond, NYXX and SINOSA both showcased their alluring potential.

At the poppier end of the spectrum, Holger Wobker used Pledge Music to relaunch BOYTRONIC with their most recent vocal incumbent James Knights in an unexpected twist to once again prove the old adage to “never say never” as far as the music industry is concerned.

Meanwhile, Chris Payne co-wrote and co-produced the excellent ‘Walking In West Berlin’ EP with KATJA VON KASSEL while also revealing plans for an autobiography and opening for his old boss…

The surprise album of the year was CHRIS CARTER with his ‘Chemistry Lessons Volume One’ while using a not dissimilar concept with their second album ‘Hello Science’, REED & CAROLINE took their folk laden synthpop out on a US tour opening for ERASURE.

IMMERSION provided a new collection of their modern Motorik as SHRIEKBACK, FISCHERSPOONER, THE PRESETS, HEARTBREAK and QUEEN OF HEARTS all made comebacks of varying degrees with audiences still eager for their work.

STEVEN JONES & LOGAN SKY harked back to the days when GARY NUMAN and OMD would release two albums in one year by offering ‘Hans Und Lieselotte’ and ‘The Electric Eye’ in 2016. Those veteran acts themselves celebrated their 40th anniversaries by going orchestral, something which SIMPLE MINDS also did when they opted to re-record ‘Alive & Kicking’ for the ’80s Symphonic’ collection although Jim Kerr forgot how a third of the song went!

With SIMPLE MINDS also performing a horrible and barely recognisable ‘Promised You A Miracle’ during BBC’s ‘The Biggest Weekend’, making up for the live joke that his former band have become was one-time bassist Derek Forbes with the album ‘Broken Hearted City’ as ZANTi with Anni Hogan of MARC & THE MAMBAS fame. Other former members of high-profile bands were busy too with Ian Burden, formally of THE HUMAN LEAGUE returning with the Floydian ‘Hey Hey Ho Hum’ while A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS reformed briefly for an orchestral re-run of their catalogue.

With the release of their second album ‘Kinetik’, EKKOES handed over THE HUMAN LEAGUE support baton to SHELTER who came up with their best body of work yet in the more introspective shades of ‘Soar’

That darker approach manifested itself on singer Mark Bebb’s side project FORM with Keith Trigwell of SPEAK & SPELL whose debut long player ‘defiance + entropy’ also came out in 2018.

Having been championed by RÖYSKSOPP, Wales’ MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY returned with ‘Infinity Mirror’ while riding on the well-deserved momentum from opening for OMD, Ireland’s TINY MAGNETIC PETS embarked on their first headlining tour. Representing North of the border were RYAN VAIL and HANNAH PEEL, but hailing from Scotland were WITCH OF THE VALE who proved to be one of the most interesting new acts of 2018 having supported ASSEMBLAGE 23 on their most recent UK visit.

There was a good showing from UK acts in 2018 with RODNEY CROMWELL, ANI GLASS, THE FRIXION, NEW ARCADES, OLLIE WRIDE and FAKE TEAK all issuing some excellent synth tinged songs for public consumption. However, the side was let down by the conveyor belt of lame profanity laden offerings from a number of British acts afflicted with deluded normality.

NINA’s long awaited debut album ‘Sleepwalking’ was a fine hybrid of synthpop and the currently fashionable Synthwave aesthetic; her live double billing with Canadian synthpopsters PARALLELS was one of the hottest tickets of the year. The sub-genre was indeed making waves and there were some very enjoyable artists coming out of it like GUNSHIP, DANA JEAN PHOENIX and MICHAEL OAKLEY.

However, the endless AOR excesses, moonlight sax breaks and highly unimaginative band monikers using numbers between 80 to 89 affixed to an archaic technology reference, illustrated by yet another neon sunset, VCR grid and Lamborghini, were becoming tiresome.

As Synthwave cynics, The Electricity Club’s touch paper was being lit big time! The whole point of the synthesizer’s role during the Second British Invasion of the US was to fight against the insipid overtures of AOR like TOTO, CHICAGO and JOURNEY, NOT to make music coated with its horrid stench as THE MIDNIGHT did in 2018 with their long player ‘Kids’.

But there was naivety within some quarters too; electronic music did not begin in 2011 with ‘Drive’, an above average film with a good if slightly over rated soundtrack. However, its cultural influence has led to a plethora of meandering tracks made by gamer boys which sounded like someone had forgotten to sing on them; perhaps they should have gone back to 1978 and listened to GIORGIO MORODER’s ‘Midnight Express Theme’ to find out how this type of instrumental music should be done?

Many of the newer artists influenced by Synth Britannia that The Electricity Club has featured have sometimes been accused of being stuck in the past, but a fair number of Synthwave acts were really taking the soggy biscuit with their retro-obsession.

Rock band MUSE’s use of glowing artwork by Kyle Lambert of ‘Stranger Things’ fame on their eighth album ‘Simulation Theory’ sent sections of the Synthwave community into meltdown. There were cries that they had “stolen the aesthetics and concept” and how “it’s not relevant to their sound”! But WHAM! had Peter Saville designed sleeves and never sounded like NEW ORDER or OMD, while electropop diva LA ROUX used a visual stylisation for ‘In For The Kill’ that has since been claimed by Synthwavers as their own, despite it being from 2009 when Ryan Gosling was peddling graveyard indie rock in DEAD MAN’S BONES 😉

This was one of the bigger ironies of 2018, especially as MUSE have always used synths! One of Matt Bellamy and co’s biggest musical inspirations is ULTRAVOX, indicating the trio probably have a better understanding of the fusion between the synthesizer, rock and classical music, as proven by the ‘Simulation Theory’ bookends ‘Algorithm’ and ‘The Void’, than any static laptop exponent with a Jan Hammer fixation.

It is interesting to note today how electronic music has split into so many factions, but there’s still the assumed generalisation that it is all one thing and that synthpop fans must also like Synthwave, Deep House, EDM, Industrial and those tedious beach chill-out remixes.

Back in the day and even now, some fans of THE HUMAN LEAGUE didn’t like OMD, DEPECHE MODE fans only liked DEPECHE MODE and rock fans had a token favourite electronic band. Out of all the synth based pop acts of the Synth Britannia era, The Electricity Club had very little time for THOMPSON TWINS despite their huge international success, but their leader Tom Bailey’s 2018 solo recorded return ‘Science Fiction’ was warmly received by many.

Just as COLDPLAY and SNOW PATROL fans don’t all embrace ELBOW, it is ok to have preferences and to say so. Not liking the music of an artist does not make you a bad person, but liking everything does not make you a better person either… in fact, it shows you probably have no discerning taste! In 2002, SOFT CELL warned of a ‘Monoculture’, and if there is no taste differentiation in art and music, it will spell the end of cultural enhancement.

Taste is always the key, but then not everyone who loves chocolate likes Hersheys… and with that analogy, The Electricity Club bids farewell to 2018 and looks forward to a 2019 that includes the return of TEARS FOR FEARS and the first full live shows from GIORGIO MORODER, plus new releases by VILE ELECTRODESKITE, VILLA NAH, I AM SNOW ANGEL and LADYTRON.


THE ELECTRICITY CLUB Contributor Listings of 2018

PAUL BODDY

Best Album: MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY Infinity Mirror
Best Song: MAN WITHOUT COUNTRY Lafayette
Best Gig: TANGERINE DREAM at London Union Chapel
Best Video: THE SOFT MOON Give Something
Most Promising New Act: VOX LOW


IAN FERGUSON

Best Album: BLANCMANGE Wanderlust
Best Song: ELECTRO SPECTRE The Way You Love
Best Gig: OMD at Glasgow Kelvingrove Park
Best Video: NYXX Voodoo
Most Promising New Act: WITCH OF THE VALE


SIMON HELM

Best Album: DUBSTAR One
Best Song: PAGE Start (Poptronica Version)
Best Gig: DIE KRUPPS + FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY at O2 Academy Islington
Best Video: FIFI RONG Horizon
Most Promising New Act: ZANTi


CHI MING LAI

Best Album: EMIKA Falling In Love With Sadness
Best Song: FIAT LUX It’s You
Best Gig: SOFT CELL at London O2 Arena
Best Video: FAKE TEAK Bears Always Party The Exact Right Amount
Most Promising New Act: WITCH OF THE VALE


MONIKA IZABELA TRIGWELL

Best Album: GUNSHIP Dark All Day
Best Song: SHELTER Karma
Best Gig: IAMX at London Electric Ballroom
Best Video: JUNO REACTOR Let’s Turn On
Most Promising New Act: MECHA MAIKO


Text by Chi Ming Lai
8th December 2018

THE KVB Only Now Forever

The follow-up to 2016’s ‘Of Desire’, ‘Only Now Forever’ develops on the brooding post-punk sound of THE KVB.

Getting together in 2011, the British audio-visual duo of multi-instrumentalist Nicholas Wood and keyboardist Kat Day actually relocated to write and record in Berlin, adding a more independently-minded edge to their reverb coated sound in the process.

If NEW ORDER had been weaned on shoegaze, they might have sounded like THE KVB.

Signed to Geoff Barrow’s Invada Records, with previous collaborators such as Joe Dilworth and Mark Reeder on their curriculum vitae and a prestigious invitation to perform at Robert Smith’s meltdown Festival 2018, THE KVB certainly have their esteemed admirers.

The excellent uptempo motorik of ‘Above Us’ is a good start, accessible yet suitably mysterious and coming over like LADYTRON fronted by Kevin Shields. Under layers of string synths and attached to a solid bass rumble, ‘On My Skin’ has a good chorus while with more psychedelic overtones, ‘Only Now Forever’ recalls early ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN when they used the odd smidgen of synth and drum machine.

The unsurprisingly gothic ‘Afterglow’ looms with heavy beats and penetrating textural six string as Wood announces “here comes the night” but with ‘Violet Noon’, there’s a more steadfast nocturnal mood, like THE JESUS & THE MARY CHAIN with more washes of atmospheric synths, as if the Reid brothers had been dropped onto the set of ‘Twin Peaks’.

The guitars take more of a backseat on ‘Into Life’ while the spectre of CABARET VOLTAIRE circa ‘The Crackdown’ make its presence felt via a hypnotic bass sequence and assorted sweeps; it also sees Day put her breathy allure to the forefront on this arty slice of moody electro-disco

‘Live In Fiction’ recalls THE CURE meeting THE SOFT MOON but is less reliant on wall of sound intensity, but the wonderful clubby vibe of ‘Tides’ offers some vibrant electricity with a combination of sequences and synths for possibly the album’s highlight.

The 6/8 percussive drift of ‘No Shelter’ looms away but cut from a similar cloth to ‘Above Us’, ‘Cerulean’ does have a slightly more frantic edge, Woods’ vocals harmonised by Day’s angelic tones although the track does seem to disappear into a cacophony of haze.

More refined and sharper than previous offerings, the melodic emphasis on ‘Only Now Forever’ has paid off and there is plenty of crossover appeal for those who like a bit of synth and a dash of alternative rock. Some might find THE KVB’s overall template old-fashioned, but being uninhibited in their willingness to mix technology with live instruments and a bit of darkness like in days of yore can only be a good thing.


‘Only Now Forever’ is released by Invada Records on CD, double vinyl LP and digital formats

THE KVB 2018 live dates include:

Glasgow Hug and Pint (24 October), Newcastle Think Tank (25th October), Manchester Yes (26th October), Leeds Hyde Park Book Club (27th October), York The Crescent (28th October), Birmingham Hare & Hounds (29th October), Brighton Green Door Store (30th October), London Corsica Studios (31st October), Bristol Rough Trade (1st November), Roubaix La Cave Aux Poetes (2nd November), Nantes Soy Festival (3rd November), Le Havre McDaids (4th November), Amsterdam Sugarfactory (6th November), Cologne Bumann & Sohn (7th November), Gent Charlatan (8th November), Hamburg Hafenklang (9th November), Copenhagen Stengade (10th November), Stockholm Debaser Strand (11th November), Oslo Revolver (12th November), Berlin Lido (14th November), Poznan Meskalina (15 November), Warsaw Poglos (16th November), Prague Café v Lese (17th November), Brno Kabinet MUZ (18th November), Budapest Dürer Kert (20th November), Vienna Fluc (21 November), Munich Kranhalle (23rd November), Yverdon-les-Bains L’Amalgame (24th November), Zurich La Mascotte (25th November), Rome Largo Venue (27th November), Bologna Locomotivclub (28th November), Barcelona SiDecemberar (30th November), Madrid Moby Dick (1 December), Jurançon La Ferronnerie (3rd December), La Rochelle La Sirene (4th December), Bordeaux Iboat (5th December), Paris Le Badaboum (6th December), Amiens La Lune des Pirates (7th December)

http://www.thekvb.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/thekvbmusic/

https://twitter.com/TheKVB

https://www.instagram.com/thekvb/

https://thekvb.bandcamp.com/music


Text by Chi Ming Lai
20th October 2018

THE SOFT MOON Interview

Photo by Marion Costentin

Since The Electricity Club caught THE SOFT MOON at the beginning of the year for their London date at The Dome in Tufnell Park, the act has been touring constantly in support of new album ‘Criminal’.

Essentially the one-man project of Oakland multi-instrumentalist Luis Vasquez, THE SOFT MOON have just released a new promo video for the ‘Criminal’ album track ‘Like a Father’ and have been added to bill at the Robert Smith curated 2018 Meltdown Festival.

THE SOFT MOON will join a stellar line-up at London’s South Bank Centre including NINE INCH NAILS, MANIC STREET PREACHERS, DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE, MY BLOODY VALENTINE, PLACEBO, THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS and THE KVB.

Luis Vasquez kindly took time out from his busy schedule to discuss the challenges of making of ‘Criminal’, his diverse range of influences and the impact of working as a solo musician.

Because the majority of your music is relentlessly dark, do you think people have a preconceived idea of your personality before meeting you?

Always, I’ve even been told a few times by journalists that they were a bit nervous to meet before an interview, thinking that I was some sort of dark and intense person. A lot of people are surprised by my outgoing exterior personality. I pretty much keep all my intensity internalized and only let it out through the music itself.

There is an enlightening Ingmar Bergman diary entry when discussing the link between pain and creativity which says “there is too much menneske in me” (Danish for ‘human being’), do you subscribe to this notion?

Of course I do. I have a really hard time processing emotions and even physical sensations. Resistance to my own humanity makes it difficult for me to function sometimes, and is the culprit behind a lot of my anxiety.

You’ve lived a very nomadic existence; which of the cities you’ve lived in have had the most effect on your music?

Definitely Berlin. It’s taken me to some extreme highs and lows and I’ve learned a lot about myself in terms of human limits. It’s made me realize how emotional, anxious, sensitive, spontaneous, and daring I am. I’ve almost died in this city and it scares the hell out of me. It’s the only place in the world where I’ve lost complete control of myself.

What sort of impact did growing up Catholic have on your music?

It’s impacted the subject manner of some of my songs. All Catholicism ever did was leave me with a guilty conscience to which I’ve been working on myself ever since in order to banish it. Especially with my most recent release ‘Criminal’, the key emotion throughout the album is guilt.

Although you are not an Industrial act per se, some acts in that scene have changed their sound considerably. What is your viewpoint on bands that could arguably be seen as “selling out” or disassociating themselves from their original roots?

It’s a natural process in life to grow, therefore making you change several times throughout your own personal evolution.

Also, in terms of music itself, there is only so much you can create before you start repeating yourself, so the only way is to give yourself more freedom to expand. I think it’s not fair for fans to sometimes keep an artist imprisoned to that one favorite album of theirs, or sound, genre, or era.

There were 72 (!) credited writers on the last BEYONCE album, what is your viewpoint on the pros and cons of collaborating and why do you prefer to work alone?

When it comes to THE SOFT MOON, I do prefer to work alone, because in the end this particular project is about my personal life which includes self-discovery and self-healing. It’s also about my curiosities as a human being living on earth. In general, I actually love collaborating with other musicians, there’s no other feeling like that in the world when communicating with a fellow artist. I grew up playing in many bands sharing ideas and it wasn’t until I chose to create THE SOFT MOON that I became a solo artist.

Which artists have had the most influence on the sound of THE SOFT MOON?

The Krautrock genre was the initial main influence for THE SOFT MOON, specifically CAN and NEU! because of their use of the motorik beat which I’ve used on several of my songs. Other influences would be PRINCE and MICHAEL JACKSON. My first exposure to music was pop.

JOHN FOXX is an acknowledged influence on you, what was it like working with one of your musical heroes on ‘Evidence’?

Aside from feeling completely honored about the opportunity to work with JOHN FOXX, the collaborative process itself was very casual without any pressure (except for the pressure I gave myself). Foxxy sent me a skeletal idea to add flesh to. After a few exchanges over the span of a few months, what turned out was something beautifully polished.

You cite the ARP Odyssey as a go to synth, what is it about this particular instrument that makes it special for you and are there any other bits of gear that are important to you?

The ARP Odyssey played a big role in the Krautrock genre along with Moog. I really like late 70s and early 1980s space sounds so when I found out that KRAFTWERK were using an ARP Odyssey, I knew that was the synth for me.

Some of your other influences are intriguing, can you tell us about the connection between the demon possession movie ‘The Entity’ and one of your songs?

I was hugely inspired by the film’s theme song entitled ‘Relentless Attack’ for the creation of one of my songs entitled ‘Black’ on my third album ‘Deeper’. It was such a menacing sound and I completely connected it with it on a deep emotional level.

Did you have a particular plan for the sound of ‘Criminal’ and if so, did it end up the way that you hoped?

It actually took me about six months to figure out which direction to go into. I was confused and angry with my life during the early stages of creating ‘Criminal’. I was upset about living in Berlin, I felt I was a slave to my own music, and I was even questioning whether or not I wanted to continue making music as THE SOFT MOON. When I almost reached the breaking point, I spewed out ‘Burn’ and it paved the way in unfolding the rest of the album.

‘Give Something’ is a standout track on ‘Criminal’, is the lyric written about a specific relationship?

It’s about my relationships in general, but I have found myself contemplating my actions more so in recent relationships, which is why I felt the urge to finally express this particular subject.

The Electricity Club caught THE SOFT MOON at their recent London show, how does performing live work for you, especially having to bring in other musicians?

I feel it works very well in a live context. In fact, when I write music I always keep the live show in mind and can picture what it would look like. In the beginning I never intended to perform live with THE SOFT MOON, so I never wrote music that I thought would translate well in a live environment. Because I use so many layers and create heavily rhythmic patterns, I don’t think THE SOFT MOON would work without additional members on stage.

One of the unique elements of THE SOFT MOON live show is your use of percussion, how did this evolve?

This all stems from my Cuban heritage. I grew up around percussion instruments, but ultimately it’s in my blood.

Prior to a 2016 Las Vegas show, you had all of your equipment stolen, how much of a blow was that and did any of it get recovered? Or did you see it as an artistic opportunity to evolve your sound?

It was a pretty major blow. We posted a fundraiser right after and were able to make up for some of the loss thanks to the generosity of our loyal fans. Unfortunately we weren’t able to recover any of the equipment or merch.

The majority of what was stolen was all our merchandise, so the next morning we drove around Oakland searching through dumpsters and keeping an eye out for people on the streets wearing THE SOFT MOON T-shirts *laughs out loud*

What is next for THE SOFT MOON?

As of right now, we’re 100% focused on touring ‘Criminal’. I have a hard time doing too many things at once but I am making my way toward soundtrack work.


The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to Luis Vasquez

Special thanks to Frankie Davison at Stereo Sanctity

‘Criminal’ is released by Sacred Bones Records in CD, vinyl LP and digital formats

THE SOFT MOON perform at Robert Smith’s Meltdown Festival 2018 on London’s South Bank Centre with MY BLOODY VALENTINE on Saturday 23rd June and with THE KVB on Sunday 24th June, more info at https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/

http://www.thesoftmoon.com

https://www.facebook.com/thesoftmoon/

https://twitter.com/thesoftmoon

https://www.instagram.com/the_soft_moon/

https://www.sacredbonesrecords.com/collections/the-soft-moon


Text and Photos by Paul Boddy, except where credited
2nd June 2018

THE SOFT MOON Live at The Dome

With fourth album ‘Criminal’ now doing the rounds, The Dome in Tufnell Park was filled to the brim as Oakland’s THE SOFT MOON performed the only UK date on their current tour.

Essentially the one-man project of Luis Vasquez, their live line-up is expanded with the addition of Luigi Pianezzola on bass / synths and Matteo Vallicelli on live / electronic drums including a nifty four pad retro Simmons combo.

Vasquez started the show solo with a rendition of the dark Numan-esque title track from his new album before being joined by his two sidemen. What initially hits home most about THE SOFT MOON live experience is the clarity of their sound; on record they have (at times) an impenetrable and murky aesthetic.

But here in the live arena, there is a much more muscular delivery with the superb PA system at The Dome proving transformational sound-wise for the band. On stage, Vasquez showcases himself as a really accomplished musician, effortlessly flipping from guitar to a Moog Sub 37 synth and then to live percussion; he is an artist that holds the audience transfixed, combined with a low down (head bowed) signature synth playing posture.

Special mention must also be given to percussionist Vallicelli; combining the tom-driven style of NEW ORDER’s Stephen Morris and the motorik beat of Krautrock, there was never any unnecessary overplaying and when a song needed electronic drums, he switched to his stand-up Simmons set-up instead.

With a set combining an even balance of tracks from THE SOFT MOON’s four albums, there was plenty here to please both old and new fans alike, with the newer material from ‘Criminal’ slotting in effortlessly with cuts from ‘Deeper’, ‘Zeros’ and their eponymous debut long player. Standout track ‘Give Something’ from ‘Criminal’ proved a mid-set highlight and showed off Vasquez’s wide vocal range, whilst from the same album the EBM bass-driven ‘Father’ got The Dome crowd moving.

‘Wrong’ from ‘Deeper’ gave Vasquez a chance to showcase his percussive skills with an improvised trash can drum played almost Batucada-style plus additional hi-Q synth drums overlayed by Pianezzola on a Roland trigger pad. ‘Tiny Spiders’ was one of many songs in the set to feature the classic Post-Punk flanged guitar sound much beloved of SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES’ John McGeoch and PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED’s Keith Levine and in places, the spirit of Crawley’s finest THE CURE was also summoned.

After a set which seemed to cruise by, the band came back for two encores of ‘Black’ and ‘Want’ (with one word titles being a signature thing for the band).

With ‘Criminal’ picking up some really stellar reviews and the band selling out venues effortlessly, it is surely only a matter of time before THE SOFT MOON shift up to a higher level of exposure and popularity.

In the wrong hands, this kind of material has the potential to fail live, but Vasquez and co show how nihilistic anthems of despair and alienation can be truly engaging when performed. At the risk of being overtly pun-tastic, it really would be criminal to miss this band live… highly recommended.


Special thanks to Frankie Davison at Stereo Sanctity

‘Criminal’ is released by Sacred Bones Records in CD, vinyl LP and digital formats

THE SOFT MOON 2018 European Tour dates include:

Yverdon Les Bains L’Amalgame (20th February), Milan Magnolia (21st February), Rome Monk (22nd February), Napoli Lanificio (23rd February), Bologna Covo (24th February), Munich Kranhalle (7th March), Leipzig UT Connewitz (8th March), Hamburg Hafenklang (9th March), Cologne Gebäude 9 (10th March), Saarbrucken Garage Club (11th March), Nijmegen Doomroosje (13th March), Lille Les Paradis Artificiels (14th March), Nantes Stereolux (15th March), Lyon Epicerie Moderne (16th March)

http://www.thesoftmoon.com

https://www.facebook.com/thesoftmoon/

https://twitter.com/thesoftmoon

https://www.sacredbonesrecords.com


Text and Photos by Paul Boddy
19th February 2018

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