The Soft Moon: Zeros [Album Review]

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The Soft Moon
Captured Tracks [2012]

Zeros is filled with hermetic, chamber music that simultaneously acts as a distorted reflection of eerie music and an embodiment of its essence. “Machines” swirls and pelts, while “Zeros” and “Lost Years” burst with disco shimmies and goth gasps. “Crush” engulfs us, and “Want” feels like the soundtrack to a werewolf hunt. But what is the ultimate purpose?

Nine Inch Nails has successfully navigated the realms of both dark loudness and lurking darkness. The latter is best exemplified in Ghosts [2008] and Trent Reznor’s film scores. However, on Zeros, The Soft Moon does an admirable job of occupying the middle ground between these extremes. NIN achieved one of its biggest hits when it struck a similar balance (with “Closer”), and Suicide has long been lauded as early pioneers of this style. The Soft Moon builds upon these predecessors while also drawing inspiration from bands like Bauhaus and similar acts. The result is a mood album that would have seamlessly fit into the 2011 film Drive. Envision David Bowie in a Berlin film house in 1977, watching a copy of Drive obtained through a time machine. That captures the essence of this album. Picture Bowie stylishly twitching, his eyes illuminated by cold light, as Ryan Gosling strikes poses and bleeds.

The album exudes palpable menace, but what about the musicianship? For the most part, it delivers. It presents various perspectives on crime scenes, like observing them from different angles: in some songs, you become the serial killer, while in others, you become the victim. This is not an album for everyday listening. It thrives best when you willingly immerse yourself in its atmosphere, and I imagine most of the songs would wither under the bright light of a sunny day. However, when you venture off to meet the mad monk in an underground rail station, that’s when this album truly shines.

“Machines” / “Zeros” / “Crush”

Suicide / Bauhaus / Pigface

-Reviewed by Alan Black


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