The Soft Moon: Artist You Should Know

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From KCRW DJ Mario Cotto:

A few weeks ago, I was in Philly for the holidays, right after a heavy Nor’easter blizzard.

I’d forgotten that the winter sun sets around 3 in the afternoon…so although it was mid-afternoon on a Monday, wrapped up like a future-primitive arctic explorer, I found myself trudging on icy, gray snow drifts through an empty, dirty city in darkness.

soft moonI walked into one of my old record haunts (Repo Records) and started the process of unwrapping my frozen head, face, and hands. As I shook off the cold, I heard a girl call my name from behind the register. I was immediately glad I’d made the effort.

My friend Melanie (who has been the single most consistently awesome tried and true record shop oracle in my life) was working the shop.

Truly, she has been more influential in my musical development than either of us probably acknowledges, and I’d be lying if I didn’t use this opportunity to state that I love and care about her more than I’ve ever expressed. She and I speak in code, all references and endless smiles, all the time.

Without hesitation, she directed my attention to what is undoubtedly my favorite new discovery of 2011, The Soft Moon.

Stream “Parallels”:

The solo project of San Francisco-based, Mojave Desert raised Luis Vasquez, The Soft Moon’s self-titled debut for Captured Tracks is as entrancing an album as I’ve heard since Interpol’s first record, but with a hypnotic, ethereal element that recalls the Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil.

This album too, speaks in code. Its efficient “less is more” Bauhaus aesthetic, present on the cover is the sound of the album. It is the sonic equivalent of a Hans Richter film or a Kurt Schwitters collage.

It takes simple basic layers of Post-Punk/Goth tropes (black squares) and the adds a couple of motorik/Kraut-rock elements (red squares) and creates something new and compelling out of things we’ve already seen/heard. It carefully balances the necessary dread and sadness with just enough pop prettiness to make you want to spend more and more time with it. Its poised minimalism makes it possible to appreciate how the pieces make the whole.

After some time with Melanie, I buried my headphones in my ears, wrapped up my warm flesh parts, grabbed my copy of The Soft Moon and went back out into the frozen city.

The music was and is perfect. Perfect for braving cold landscapes. Perfect for romantic nostalgia of what could’ve been. And perfect for the endless uncertainty of the future.

Mario Cotto