Moby

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Ambient

Moby - Ambient ©1993 Instinct Records
1. My Beautiful Blue Sky
2. Heaven
3. Tongues
4. J Breas
5. Myopia
6. House Of Blue Leaves
7. Bad Days
8. Piano & String
9. Sound
10. Dog
11. 80
12. Lean On Me

Essentially what the title suggests, Ambient is a collection of light, airy keyboard compositions from the ever restless Moby. What is provided on this album is not ambient in the sense of Lull or any number of soundscape artists, but rather structured, peaceful music, mostly revolving around serene keyboard tones and very light, appropriate percussion. Simply put, Ambient is Moby's foray into relaxation music and fortunately he also avoids diving into new age-isms. Some his techno roots do show up, particularly on the sublime driving beats in "Heaven", but overall the keyboards are the dominate instrument in the music. The songs themselves are not particularly complex or filled with tons of layers of sounds, but that is beside the point. The tracks each have a good identity and Ambient is a very easy album to put on late at night while reading or perhaps playing on the internet. The music occasionally contains a soundtrack type of quality to it and can evoke some imagery within the listener's mind, particularly on "Myopia". Ambient is definitely more of a background type of music, but for what it is, it is quite enjoyable and worth having.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/2000

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Animal Rights

Moby - Animal Rights ©1997 Elektra
1. Dead Sun
2. Someone To Love
3. Heavy Flow
4. You
5. Now I Let It Go
6. Come On Baby
7. Soft
8. Anima
9. Say It's All Mine
10. That's When I Reach For My Revolver
11. Alone
12. Face It
13. Old
14. Living
15. Love Song For My Mom
16. A Season In Hell

Having gone through more phases than the moon on any given month, Moby (born Richard Hall) chose to take on a mix of previously visited "ambience" and interweave softer, keyboard new age tracks with a hybrid of industrial and punk. The notable thing about Moby is that while he attempts more than a handful of different styles from techno, dance music, house and trance to the other side of the spectrum with guitar driven rock, he's usually the cliched "jack of all trades, master of none". Animal Rights begs for the listener to "please listen to Animal Rights in its entirety at least once", which should be an immediate cause for alarm.

The biggest difficulty in sitting through the entire seventy-two minutes (depending on if you have the American version of this or the two-CD import) is the clashing styles. Angry guitar driven rock lies directly next to soft, keyboard ambience tracks and that juxtaposition might be too much for purists on either side of the fence to handle.

Personally I don't mind all that much.

Moby's biggest problem is creating a convincing guitar oriented song. Essentially, he sounds like a repressed office worker whose panties finally got into quite the bunch with his wailing vocals that sound more cranky than angry. The guitars offer very little depth as he pounds away on fairly basic chords. For some songs, such as "Someone to Love", this actually works and the melody is relatively memorable. On others, he just sounds like the mail room clerk having a bad day. The drum machine doesn't help matters a whole lot either. The approach really does come across as far too basic, even when one considers simplicity is the key here.

Among the more ambient or keyboard oriented tracks, much praise must be given to the neo-soundtrack winner of "Alone", one of his best compositions I've heard yet. The other compositions are enjoyable in a background music sort of way and certainly not bad. I do believe these quieter passages do keep Animal Rights from becoming entirely annoying, which it would be if it were only the guitar driven songs.

On a whole, this is the sort of album enjoyed in small doses or perhaps showing up on mix CDs made for the car, where you're not trying to sit through an entire spectrum of Moby's moods. I wouldn't necessarily suggest this album to a rock or punk purist, nor an electronica-only enthusiasts, but for fans who have a wider appreciation, this is fairly interesting.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/2000


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Play

Moby - Play ©1998 Mute
1. Honey
2. Find My Baby
3. Porcelain
4. Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?
5. South Side
6. Rushing
7. Bodyrock
8. Natural Blues
9. Machete
10. 7
11. Run On
12. Down Slow
13. If Things Were Perfect
14. Everloving
15. Inside
16. Guitar Flute & String
17. The Sky Is Broken
18. My Weakness

Moby seems to have a lot of people fooled.

For whatever reason, Moby seems to sell a lot of CDs, get a reasonable amount of attention and somehow find himself at the forefront of the techno/electronic-whatever scene, although he seems to also have a difficult time standing still in any particular genre. After an uneven foray into punkish alternative rock on Animal Rights, Moby took a dive into blues and gospel tinged trip-hop. And he fooled everyone, as usual, by recording a handful of very good songs among a sea of filler material and completely uninteresting dross. Without a doubt everyone has heard the little cascading piano riff of "Porcelain", which was a nice little introspective and moody piece. Play also includes a few other reasonably decent numbers that are catchy. Moby does often show moments of ability by being able to successfully fuse his electronic base to a random other genre, with a great pop song at the heart of the matter. The rest of the time he sounds like he is fiddling around in the studio without anyone discriminating enough to say, "Ya know, Richard, you may want to rethink including that song on the CD." Much of the attempts at infusing blues and gospel into his music comes across as tedious and trivial. Other songs simply hang there without really doing much more than moving sound waves across your room. They certainly won't invite you to get up, boogie and shake your money maker.

Moby has essentially become a jack of all trades and certainly a master of none. When he does hit the nail on the head, he proves he is very capable of highly impressive work. However, his scattershot method and complete misses is maddening and makes one wish he or she could do a little editing at the CD pressing plant before Moby CDs are released into the public.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/2002

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