Sunday, April 22, 2018
The Bowery Presents South: The Soft Moon + Boy Harsher at Gasa Gasa
Tickets are on-sale NOW at gasagasa.com
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 is a dark electronic duo that produces gritty dance beats infused with ethereal vocals, creating a sound that is eerie, intense and incredibly danceable. Augustus Muller develops the underbelly of sound with minimal beats and grinding synths, where Jae Matthews whispers, screams and chants on top. Together, the music created is somewhere between industrial, drone and confessional storytelling. Muller and Matthews both have a strong background in film and their cinematic approach translates effectively in both their recordings and live performance.
Boy Harsher started in early 2013 under the name Teen Dreamz. The project was based on short stories written and read by Matthews then live scored by Muller. As the project matured the instrumentals became more dance influenced and Matthews’ delivery became more dynamic and spontaneous. In January of 2014 Teen Dreamz took on the moniker Boy Harsher.
Yr Body is Nothing, Boy Harsher’s debut LP, was released by Atlanta’s DKA Records in June of 2016. The LP has been described as a “darkly beautiful and very emotional new record” by Gorilla Vs. Bear and as “highly danceable fantasy narratives of desire and nuanced discomfort” by Decoder Magazine. The album was recorded at home in Northampton, Massachusetts with additional recording and final mixing done at Dollhouse Studios by Peter Mavrogeorgis. The first pressing quickly sold out and a 2nd pressing was released January 2017 ahead of Boy Harsher’s US tour.
Their first EP was mostly recorded at home in Savannah using small collection of cheap synthesizers. These recordings were fleshed out in the studio under the guidance of veteran engineer and producer Peter Mavrogeorgis at Dollhouse Studios. After a short, but productive mixing and mastering session Boy Harsher completed their EP Lesser Man. Lesser Man was originally released by Savannah’s Soft Science on small run cassette. St. Paul’s Night People re-released Lesser Man in April.
Boy Harsher currently resides in Northampton, Massachusetts.