by Arye Dworken
Poor Moby. Lord knows it’s not easy being bald, vegan and sensitive. He wears glasses, drinks tea (even has his own line of herbal beverages), and endures routine verbal attacks for no apparent reason other than being Moby. But the man born Richard Melville Hall has always acknowledged his inner-wimp faster than you can say, “How much will I get paid exactly if my tune scores your commercial?” In a January 30 blog entry, Moby reminds readers he’s “the first to admit that I’m not a tough guy.” His newest release, Hotel, hinges on the deadly accuracy of this statement.
This 14-song outing kicks off with the melancholic “Raining Again,” continues with an ethereal cover of New Order’s “Temptation” and ends with “Homeward Angel,” a funereal-sounding number. Eschewing his trademark blues-flavored samples in favor of his own vocals, Moby composed the entire record from scratch—a truly bold move for the veteran New York DJ. And while his singing voice wouldn’t likely earn him much favor before an American Idol judging panel, he compensates with earnestness and authenticity. Your vegan-bashing, bald-hating, coffee-snob friends may find plenty to ridicule about Melville’s latest, but Moby means well. He wants nothing more than to move the citizens of our war-mongering world, and that, my friend, is a worthy pursuit.
Smells Like B.O.
by Jeff Leven
I don’t even know where to start. This disc lost me at hello and only got worse. I could deal with it being an underpowered, technically regressive, lazily assembled turd of an album and not lose my cool. I could deal with this album being lyrically hackneyed and conceptually pointless. I could even chuckle at the smarmy hubris of including a full extra disc of dentist-office, stale-and-sterile “ambient” music (how this differs much from the main disc is something I’m still working out). But the syrupy blasphemy of Moby’s godawful attack on New Order’s classic “Temptation” got me fighting mad. Dammit.
Hotel, with its consistently limp tempos, ignores almost all the collagist techniques and sonic innovations in electronica (if you can still use that term to describe Moby’s music) since, oh, about 1994. But here’s what galls me the most: if anyone less famous than Moby mailed this CD out as a demo it would become a coaster (or ad hoc ashtray) in seconds flat. Even if you’re one of those misguided folks who thought Play was something special, you’ve got to admit that whatever slack its popularity earned Moby doesn’t begin to justify the ham-fisted pop crappery he’s been slavering on us ever since. I’m checking out of this Hotel before someone tells me I can never leave.
Reader's Poll Results
Free HBO (aka, I dig it!): 42%
Smells Like B.O. (Moby, please stop making records!): 58%