The Soft Moon

Speakeasy and Zero Mile presents...

The Soft Moon

Boy Harsher, Kangarot

Fri · April 27, 2018

9:00 pm

Aisle 5

$13.00 - $15.00

Tickets at the Door

This event is all ages

The Soft Moon
The Soft Moon
‘Criminal’, The Soft Moon's fourth studio album, is a confessional work. Through the stark lens of shame and guilt that has followed Luis Vasquez since a violent childhood growing up within the humming ambient sprawl of 80s Mojave Desert, here he documents the gut-wrenching sound of going to war with himself. Battling with his own sanity, self-hatred, insecurity, self-entitlement and grappling with the risk of these things transforming him into a person he despises, Vasquez has laid his feelings bare with this: his confession and most self-reflective work to date. “Guilt is my biggest demon and has been following me since childhood. Everything I do strengthens the narrative that I am guilty” Vasquez reflects. “The concept of ‘Criminal’ is a desperate attempt to find relief by both confessing to my wrongdoings and by blaming others for their wrongdoings that have affected me.”‘Criminal’ marks a striking and important chapter in his self-exploration, both artistically and emotionally. As a young musician living in Oakland, Vasquez began to try and process the narrative of his difficult upbringing veiled through musical exploration. Taking krautrock's motorik beats and Post-Punk deconstructions and honing them into a hushed percussive incantation, The Soft Moon's self-titled debut album took shape. The album was released in late 2010 by Captured Tracks and was praised by critics and emulated by contemporaries. In 2012 the apocalyptic conceptual work of Zeros emerged, shortly followed by Vasquez moving to Venice, Italy in 2013, acting as a catalyst for 2014’s release, Deeper. While previous albums were primarily instrumental records, where Vasquez’s voice was diffused amidst the music as another instrument, Deepermarked the beginning of a new musical direction where vocals and lyrics became something more than a mere presence. Deeper was a descent into the womb of childhood trauma, anxiety and fear, and although Vasquez survived this dark exploration of himself, he did not return alone. Working once more with Maurizio Baggio, who produced Deeper, at La Distilleria in Bassano Del Grappa, Italy, ‘Criminal’ sees Vasquez further explore putting his lyrics at the forefront and letting his raw emotions flow. The album begins with a confrontation with his true self through the torrid bass lines and searing vocals of “Burn”; a song evoking a loss of control akin to demonic possession, stating: "Eyes, reflecting the person that I am, and it burns". In this track Vasquez's guilt bores deeper and deeper into a condemnation that ultimately is: "Fire, hell is where I'll go to live, so I burn”.“Burn” is followed by the caustic bass, mechanized rhythms, and numbing emulsions of “Choke,” a song about the amplifying and anesthetizing effect of cocaine, a drug whose darker side Vasquez is not unfamiliar with. The next track “Give Something” is a subterranean love song from the deepest depths, with harrowingly despondent lyrics, seeking hope in a sea of shame. The album continues its thematic inner conflict in the Industrial/EBM percussion and distorted high attack bass of “Like a Father”, a song reflecting Vasquez's anger towards the father that abandoned him. “This head is a problem/You're the ghost of my problem/Something's got to give”pleads Vasquez as revving guitars invoke chainsaws before the song’s final lines search for closure: to kill the father within himself. The album closes with title track “Criminal”; a despondent resignation to guilt; bereft, broken, and bruised, with lyrics that confess: “It's the way I cross the line, it's the way I open, it's the way to my decline, it's the way I'm broken”. The song, like the album itself, is Vasquez's way of holding himself accountable and seeking redemption for the abuse he inflicts on himself, and acknowledges roots in the abuse which, inflicted upon him as a child, broke him.‘Criminal’ will be released on February 2nd 2018 with a new home on New York label Sacred Bones.
Boy Harsher
Boy Harsher
Boy Harsher began as an urgent need to produce and consume. In the winter of 2014, Jae Matthews and Augustus Muller started to experiment with sound, video, and text. The advent of Boy Harsher! Born out of this tumultuous relationship in swampy Georgia, their first EP Lesser Man is sexy as it is sulking. Lesser Man determined their morose, pop sound. In their second album, the full length Yr Body is Nothing, Matthews and Muller took that dark and ran with it. Both releases reflect the fervor present in their adolescent lust and anger. Yet, before Matthews and Muller recorded any song, their chaos made the project vulnerable and invariably lead to momentary destruction . In what was at the time believed to be their last performance, Matthews had “careful” tattooed across her back, while Muller fried the speakers. A lit candle was thrown. They were not on speaking terms.

At that time “Careful” was meant as a warning: the cautionary understanding of love. The duo felt as though they were disappearing within one another. But, if Boy Harsher’s first two releases narrated the pain and desperation that follows after something goes awry, then this LP, Careful, describes what loves gives you: fear and joy, tenderness and pain. For Boy Harsher, Careful attempts to detail the enveloping trauma of loss combined with the fantasy of escape (a reckless abandon).

Matthews and Muller certainly made amends since that fateful live tattooing, loud as hell performance, however both still have complex relationships to attachments. In 2017 Matthews’ mother was diagnosed with dementia and as the symptoms began to take hold the essence of “careful” became relevant in a new way. Matthews’ relationship with her parents has always been complicated: her father past away when she was a teenager and her mother is an alcoholic, consistently unpredictable with affection and stability. The loss of her father was extreme, yet acute, whereas the persistent sadness of losing her mother (the memories that defined their relationship) is a slow, chronic suffering. The trauma of losing someone is almost in tandem to Matthews’ understanding of love. It with these intensely personal struggles Matthews and Muller began developing their new album. With Careful, Boy Harsher use the medium of minimal electronics to create a compelling narrative of a deteriorating family and the reaction to run away from it.

Careful splits its time between songs that study the trauma embedded within loss and the compulsion to flee. The track “The Look You Gave (Jerry)” is named after Matthews’ deceased step-father, who passed right before her mother was diagnosed with dementia. The song mourns Jerry, as described through her mother’s perspective: “I close my eyes and I can almost see: The look u gave / when u / you ran from me.” For Matthews the fiercest pain in relation to her mother’s disease is her mother’s loss of comfort, a grasping at an image that slowly fades away. Death for Matthews and her mother has become synonymous with abandonment. Not unlike the pain of losing her father, Matthews conceives the hollowness where intimacy once was - the melancholy of disappearance.

The message of “careful” also plays out as universal warning in these Boy Harsher’s tracks — do not be fooled, loss is inevitable. “Fate” describes the willing lover who knows that there is nothing their love can do to keep their partner. “Hi Hi / Oh No / In spite of me / you always go. Forget the crying / tempt the pain / hi hi / gone again.” In Careful affection vanishes as quickly as it arrives. To understand love, you must accept that it dissolves, leaving sorrow and disappointment in its wake. Yet, Careful reconciles the deterioration of love with the gilded expectation of escapism.

In reaction to these morose conditions, Matthews and Muller created multiple tracks that celebrate flight. Their fantasies in these bleak scenarios play out in the perspective of the runaway. “LA” takes this to a wistful degree. Slow swelling synths cut sharply with fast chugging drum machines as Matthews begs someone to take her away: to go down. The darkness exists in these reveries but in perverse extremes. Boy Harsher proves Careful’s variety with these uptempo club ready tracks that demonstrate escapism through vice and rave. With “Come Closer”, a nod to early EBM, Matthews beckons on top of a pulsing bass: “In the dark, you have nothing left, Let me take it”, the escape route is through another - gesturing to ‘come play’. Even the mascot of Careful, presented in the album’s cover art, is an imagined runaway. This character, stationed in a motel, or combing the beach with an overstuffed backpack, represents the embodied fleeing of Matthews and Muller’s desperate years.

Careful marks Boy Harsher’s most dynamic album to date. The band expands upon the fine-tuned production developed in their last EP Country Girl, but with plenty of nods to the fast tempo and grittiness of Lesser Man. Matthews and Muller attribute the evolution of their sound to the extensive touring they completed in the last few years. “Traveling and connecting with people has been so fundamental;” Muller says “we’re really able to experiment with our material and it feels like the live set as grown into an entity of its own”. Boy Harsher embarked on two US and two EU tours this past year, where audiences recognize their set as faster, harder version of their recorded material. Careful was primarily written at home in Massachusetts, with just a handful of synthesizers and a laptop. For Muller a minimal set up is paramount to his process. Boy Harsher mixed the album in Italy with Maurizio Baggio of La Distilleria Studio who had a big hand in finalizing the sound.

Boy Harsher emphasizes emotive sounds and evocative narratives to generate palpable material in their latest release Careful. Careful is a timeless and original minimal synth record highlighted by a strong narrative and marks the definitive return of the enigmatic duo.
Kangarot
Venue Information:
Aisle 5
1123 Euclid Ave NE
Atlanta, GA, 30307
http://www.aisle5atl.com/