The Soft Moon - Exister Music Album Reviews

The Soft Moon - Exister Music Album Reviews
Sharper songwriting, unbridled vocal performances, and more austere industrial textures give Luis Vasquez’s fifth album a new level of depth and candor.

With 2018’s Criminal, Luis Vasquez fully committed to the industrial sounds he’d long buried under his hissing, reverb-drenched post-punk. The artist better known as the Soft Moon first brought these elements to the surface on his third album, 2015’s Deeper, where he mixed mechanical darkwave into the droning, watery palette of his earlier releases. His style owes a clear debt to Nine Inch Nails, and his lyrics, which can be cringe-inducing at times, instantly transport former teen goths back to their angsty past. Over the last seven years, his push into industrial terrain has imbued these screeds of disdain and violence with body-rocking, ear-gripping urgency.

But this goth aesthetic isn’t just a phase, mom: Vasquez has carried it into adulthood precisely because so much of his adolescent trauma remains unresolved. Criminal’s “Like a Father” was about his absent dad, and on the follow-up Exister, he puts his whole family in the spotlight. Here, he cautiously pulls the curtain back while deepening his foundation in industrial noise and abrasion. This reinforced commitment to the genre partially stems from his new place of residence: After Criminal, Vasquez relocated from his longtime home of Berlin to the town of Joshua Tree, California, much closer to his hometown of Oakland. It was there that he could record at full volume without bothering any neighbors for the first time, so he added live drums to the mix, pushed his voice outside of his comfort zone, and wrote his most forceful arrangements yet. Exister is his strongest work to date, even if revisiting his troubled past isn’t ridding him of his bleeding-heart, spiked-sleeve lyricism.

On previous records, Vasquez usually delivered his lyrics with a sneer, within roughly the same low-pitched half-octave; his under-the-breath singing style conveyed self-loathing, but rarely righteous anger. By expanding his vocal range on Exister, his stories swell in intensity. “I’m starting to become/My other self/Again,” he growls in a pitch-shifted baritone on “Monster,” right before reaching into a new, higher register that lands with striking severity. “And I’m sorry for the lies/I told you so,” he sings, staccato synth stabs evoking a transformation from an ordinary person into an untamable beast. By the track’s end, he’s all but screaming. Where he was once content to whisper as though he was guarding dark secrets, he’s now unafraid to demand attention.

Vasquez paints his past more clearly on Exister. He’s said that the album partially stems from trying to reconcile his family trauma once and for all, experiencing a “roller coaster of conflicts” with his mom, and uncovering buried secrets that caused him new pain. “Mother, will you ever let me in?” he asks on “Answers.” It’s the most directly he’s ever addressed the wounds that surround his decade-plus career; here, his voice is conversational rather than defeated and tight to the chest, which was often his default on previous records. Atop the pummeling industrial groove of “Become the Lies,” his falsetto embodies his father and the ghosts he left behind: “Won’t be long/You know, son/Once I’m gone/You’ll know.” It’s shockingly heartrending for a song this cold and austere.

There are still some unimaginative turns of phrase, like “Burn my soul away” and “My face is gone, now I’m faceless” on “Sad Song” and “Face Is Gone.” In these moments, his production does the heavy lifting. “Face Is Gone” is a tornado of tumbling synths and clattering percussion, among the steeliest Soft Moon compositions to date. “The Pit” is a moshing anthem, Vasquez’s first outright venture into industrial techno. The song is entirely instrumental, minus a few “oohs” and “aahs,” and it’s so ballistic and pitch-black that he doesn’t need words to express his agony. After a brief pause toward the end of the song, the music returns, this time more distorted and convulsive. Vasquez has taken a deep breath, composed himself, stared his past right in the eye, and projected the turmoil outward.

Exister is home to the Soft Moon’s first-ever guest features—it seems that Vasquez has finally learned to call in help when he needs to remove himself from his subject matter. The pop-punk musician fish narc gnashes his teeth on “Him,” a throbbing darkwave number that trembles with anxiety. Vasquez lets out his most bloodcurdling shout ever near the start of “Unforgiven,” and Special Interest’s Alli Logout continues to seethe with rage, as synths and drum machines ricochet off each other. Inviting guests into the fold is a huge step for a longtime solo artist who has previously distanced himself from the world; alongside his sharper songwriting and unrestrained performances, it’s a sign that he’s ready to welcome others into his healing process. By opening up the pit, he’s opening his heart, too.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
The Soft Moon - Exister Music Album Reviews The Soft Moon - Exister Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on October 04, 2022 Rating: 5


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