First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2008, Volume 15, #4
Written by John Metzger
Tue April 29, 2008, 06:30 AM CDT
Moby was immensely popular on the club circuit when Play — his brilliant, genre-bending outing from 1999 — broke through to the mainstream. Merging Alan Lomax’s field recordings with a series of heady grooves, Moby created something warm, vibrant, and spiritual from music that typically had sounded cold and distant. The subsequent attention he received made him rich, though it also nearly destroyed his artistic credibility. On both 18 and Hotel, Moby tried to move in new directions, though he also appeared to be totally content with giving the masses what they wanted to hear. Creatively lost and adrift — and unwisely using the success of South Side as an excuse to sing more frequently — he mistakenly spent his time trying to be a soulless rock star when he really ought to have been emphasizing his distinctive knack for being a DJ.
Fortunately, on his latest effort Last Night, Moby succeeded in his bid to make amends for his recently errant ways. Returning to his roots, he cycled through every conceivable permutation of dance music imaginable, and in the process, he rediscovered himself as well as his Muse. Although the outing isn’t quite as eclectic as Play — which, lest anyone forget, also contained its share of New Age dreamscapes, rock guitars, and hip-hop grooves — Last Night is its considerably more cohesive, direct descendent. For proof of the relationship that binds the two endeavors together, fans need to look no further than Everyday It’s 1989, which marries gospel exaltation with a pulsating rhythm track. By downplaying his own vocals, Moby allowed others to bask in the spotlight, though the intricate patterns and textures that he created dutifully carry the bulk of the load.
A self-described ode to the club scene from which he emerged, Last Night evokes moods, feelings, and emotions as it carries the listener on a journey from twilight to dawn. The album begins with the clarity of Ooh Yeah as crystalline piano, silvery synthesizers, funky guitars, and feathery vocals combine to capture the twittering excitement of stepping into the shadows for the sole purpose of spending a night on the town. As the set moves from the shimmering lights and tribal-beat sensuality of I Love to Move in Here to the undulating vibrations of Live for Tomorrow to the disorienting, alcohol-and-ecstasy-soaked haziness of Alice, the music’s intoxicating power inevitably takes complete command. With its final few tracks, Last Night assumes a wearily pensive air that seems to signify that the evening has drawn to a close.
As a DJ, Moby certainly knows the value of getting out of the way in order to allow his music to tell the story. On Last Night, he does just that. As a result, it is the most honest, heartfelt, and moving work that he has created since Play, even if it could have stood for a little editing. ˝
Of Further Interest...
Last Night is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2008 The Music Box