March 31, 2005

Moby: Hotel

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Known for scoring the songs to a shitload of commercials and his diverse range in the world of ambient techno, Moby had his place in the sun a short six years ago with Play. The album had some serious things going for it: it sampled slave songs from over a century before it, pushed techno in a new, easily approachable direction and gave a natural buzz to listeners that they’d never quite heard before. Three years later came 18, an inferior album showing the vegetarian bad boy pulling some unappreciated tangents, but one that still featured moments of greatness. Now he’s back with Hotel, fresh off a three-year hiatus. He should’ve taken a longer vacation.

When you think of a double-disc, you think of the Pumpkin’s Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, The Clash’s London Calling re-release, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde … etc. All of these are classics that couldn’t be captured on one disc are enhanced by their expanded play time. Moby’s 27-song effort is a two-hour artistic meltdown. Known for being a pioneer of remixing bold music from the past, the furthest he stretches back is the ’80s new wave movement. I love new wave. But who needs to hear a remix of New Order’s “Temptation?” The band’s a remix of Joy Division in and of itself. “Dream About Me” and “Live Forever” are the two songs that show promise as this softer album, and carry a bit of appreciated undertone. Another thing I found interesting was Moby singing on all, if not most of the songs. The best thing about this album was Laura Dawn, who contributed her voice to a slew of songs. And, while I came away from this listen unsatisfied. Hearing Moby’s voice more than occasionally gave it an indexical quality that improves a lot of his ambient sound, helping it rise above future elevator music.

In anything artistic whether its writing, film, or music — the biggest question is does it run on too long — can you take stuff out and make it tighter? This album could’ve been compressed into a single album if not a six-song EP. To those lovers of Moby out there, if I sound overly harsh, I apologize. But seeing an artist as creative and original as Moby giving us two hours of absolutely nothing … the weather is bad enough. But Moby, if you’re reading this as so many successful recording artists do, don’t worry. The worst techno album of the last five years still belongs to Prodigy. You are in the clear. I haven’t given up hope for you, my harmless bald friend. Go back to your roots, the ones that stem longer than two decades ago. If you’re going to sample something recent, go with the ’90s. There already is an entire ’80s rock revival with bands that have two things you don’t have — the ability to still rock and ridiculously long hair.

Archived article by Dan Cohen
Sun Staff Writer