Luis Vasquez’s debut album as The Soft Moon back in 2010 was a creeped-out fusion of krautrock and shoegaze atmospherics merged with the electronic sounds of coldwave and mid ‘80’s EBM, drenched in misery. After a misstep with 2012’s Zeros - more of the same, just not as good, possibly a victim of recording on the road - he decamped to Berlin where he now resides.
It’s a move that has re-energised his musical approach. Zeros suffered from a lack of direction and a general air of lethargy, but this time the music is much more direct, engaged, and owing to a higher concentration on song structure, lyrics and vocals, it’s a much fuller experience. Deeper, if you like.
The music is still skull crushingly claustrophobic, but trips to German techno clubs have had a noticeable influence on The Soft Moon sound. It’s sharp, the beats are punchier, and by utilising similar methods to production as techno, he's made his best album yet.
The eager rush of "Far", like The Cure on speed, is testament to this - it even has something resembling a chorus. The lyrics are typical to what you'd expect this kind of morose nu-goth music to contain, with lines such as "Take me far away / to escape myself / I was born to suffer / it kills my mind", and while this kind of existential angst set to murky electronic rock is by no way anything new, it’s executed brilliantly.
It gets darker still. The despair of "Waste" plunges the same kind of depths that Smashing Pumpkins did so well on their '98 album, Adore. "Wrong" is the hardest track here, with electro beats, scuzzed up guitars, and lyrics spat out with disgust, while the likes of "Try" and "Desertion" turn the bleakness up further. The former, recorded at regular speed and then pitched down, is a dry iced slab of pure misery, and the latter is just dying for an NSFW video featuring heavy bondage and disembodied animal heads. It’s quite telling that Soft Moon supported Depeche Mode on the European leg of their Delta Machine tour of 2014, as both tracks are touched by the shades of Martin Gore’s electro miserablism.
“Feel”, a propulsive, driving piece of new wave synth rock might be the most accessible track musically, but it’s Vasquez at his most sullen (“I feel like I’m dying inside / I feel so shallow inside / why are we alive?”). The almost poppy beats mask this internal turmoil, making for an interesting juxtaposition similar to the death-pop of Nitzer Ebb, surely a regular visitor to Vasquez’s turntable.
The shadow of mid-nineties industrial music is referenced throughout Deeper. The title track is a revisit to the early ‘90’s material of Ministry with a touch of Front 242 tribalism, whereas “Without” is a desolate vocal re-take of Nine Inch Nails’ “A Warm Place” from their Downward Spiral album, and the overwrought closer “Being”, containing the line "I can't see my face. I don't know who I am. What is this place? I don't know where I am” repeated from creepy tape recorded whisper to full on visceral scream, could easily be mistaken for KMFDM at their most gut wrenching.
Suicide, paranoia, inner turmoil, feelings of worthlessness, it’s all here for our delectation, his pain: our gain.