Moby – [Album]

Wednesday, 08 July 2009

In the years since he released Play, Moby has seemed to try everything he can think of to escape the shadow of his own greatest (read: best commercially received) sound creation. In the ten years since the singer/producer made a mint marketing every song on Play, he has tried gimmickry (Last Night), repetition (18) and ignoring what he's accomplished in the past (Hotel) as methods to get out from under Play and the fantastic public reception of it. Unfortunately, either listeners have seen through the artifice and realized that each successive release was either earnest but hollow at its core or they simply didn't think the succeeding efforts were on par with Play. I tend to side with the latter camp and, in listening to Wait For Me, it becomes apparent that Moby himself might actually feel the same way; after a brief overture that cooks the dust off his celestial synthesizers, you can almost hear the producer whisper to himself, “Fuck it all” and simply follow his gut.

For the first time since its release, Moby neither tries to outright ignore or surpass Play or even try to start over again so much as simply make music that pours its digital heart out for listeners to love. The scars of the damage that Play did to Moby's artistic vision do appear throughout the sixteen tracks on Wait For Me (they tend to manifest in the lyrics – like the “The battle will be over” refrain in “Study War” and the “Please don't let me make the same mistake again” plaint of “Mistake”) and there are moments (“jltf,” notably) that play like an extended denouement or elegiac counterpart to an album that is now ten years old.

While there are obvious comparisons that could be made between Play and Wait For Me (those celestial synths again), Moby hasn't been so foolish as to attempt to replicate that album with a new coat of paint slapped on. Rather, with one eye on it, Moby expands upon the ideas put forth by Play and includes a more universal than insular tone. Starr Blackshore, Leela James, Melody Zimmer and Keli Scarr among others all contribute guest vocals rather than letting Moby go it alone and the extra jolt of soul they add boasts the proceedings greatly; with other hands and voices to help out, Moby begins to branch into new directions with his songs which avoids the possibility that they'll blur together, and so what listeners get on Wait For Me is a set of sixteen unique and defined songs rather than something that could be mistaken for a single jam that happens to have fifteen two-second gaps in it.

All that praise, and it still has to be taken with a grain of salt. The cynic in me wants to know what the impetus for the sound of Wait For Me was; was the return to the methodology and forms of Play the safe move to make? Was such a return done to mark the tenth anniversary? Was his record label threatening to drop him if he didn't turn in something at least comparable? All of these questions are valid but, as one listens to Wait For Me, they also become irrelevant. Who cares about the reasoning? Isn't the result all that matters?

Moby online
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'Pale Horses' from Wait For Me by Moby


Wait For Me
is out now and available here on Amazon .


Moby – [Album]

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Something had to give. Nine years ago, Moby set precedents within the music industry and re-examined the way that the public consumed music when he licensed Play (an excellent record certainly, but most of his are and are also doomed to flop) to any advertiser interested; thus thrusting the album into the public’s face no matter where it turned. It worked of course—Play still holds the record for the best-selling title in the DJ’s catalogue. Recognizing that there might be something to this theory, Moby’s label did the same thing with the follow-up, 2002’s 18. Unfortunately the songs weren’t as good and a bad case of Moby’s own vocals caused the album to tank in much the same way every one other than Play has. To put it on none too fine a point, did anyone even know that its follow-up, Hotel, existed? I didn’t either. ‘Nuff said.

That cycle began nine years ago and now, well over forty, Moby is faced with the twin crises of trying to figure out how to recapture public attention and mid-life.

Last Night isn’t what anyone would have hoped for as far as restoring the vigor of the DJ’s career is concerned. As stated in the liner notes that accompany the disc, Moby has fond memories of dancing the night away at one club or another (I thought he was the fill-in drummer for Flipper back then? Which story is full of shit?) and this album is apparently his homage to that time and the exhilaration he felt.

In the strictest of terms, the album succeeds in its intended purpose. Packed with tons of retro samples that sound as if they came from ABBA and a host of R&B acts both Up- and Motown, the album plays like an 80s nightclub fire damage sale that will probably have a place both on gay and college nightclub dance floors simply for the kitsch novelty of it—but the odds of it having any staying power or lasting appeal are pretty far removed though. There are upsides to it—Moby wisely remains silent and enlists a host of other singers to run the mike—but honestly the best it manages is forgettable (“Live For Tomorrow” isn’t bad, but still only sounds like a rehash of The Stars of Club 54 while “Alice” is memorable for 419 Squad’s back-up) and those moments that are memorable are so because they’ll inspire cringes even in the devout (see “Ooh Yeah” and “I Love To Move In Here”).

If this is the best that Moby’s got left, it’s unfortunate that there’s not much hope. Can he redeem himself? Of course he can. Moby is the ultimate disposable star—every few years he gets recycled from an abysmal commercial failure with the prior triumphs he’s experienced intact and unblemished by any of his multitude of creative faceplants.

Last Night is out now on Mute.

More on Moby here: and

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