Schtick be­comes ho-hum

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Music - JAR­RAD BE­VAN

MOBY is in need of a pep talk, an up­per, and a lit­tle ray of sun­shine. From the first sec­ond of his 10th al­bum, the at­mos­phere is heavy and melan­cholic.

It’s not a bad thing. He is, af­ter all, adept at ren­der­ing these sad feel­ings in a be­liev­able way. Over the course of 15 tunes, how­ever, it can be hard work for the lis­tener.

An in­stru­men­tal called The Bro­ken Places sets the tone, with outer space ping-pong melodies, sweep­ing ana­log synths and min­i­mal, shuf­fling elec­tronic beats.

Be The One’s sim­plis­tic, repet­i­tive, ro­botic vo­cal is in keep­ing with the style of the opener but with more oomph in the rhythm sec­tion.

Sev­astopol picks up the pace a notch but never crosses the line into the realm of night­club mu­sic. De­stroyed is def­i­nitely aimed at the day af­ter a night out on the town.

Low Hum harks back to the am­bi­ent pop-elec­tron­ica of Moby’s most suc­cess­ful al­bums. The man him­self has de­scribed this record as ‘‘ bro­ken down melodic elec­tronic mu­sic for empty cities at 2am’’. That’s ex­actly what Low Hum feels like.

The Day is a turn­ing point. It ob­vi­ously chan­nels Bowie but not in a dis­gust­ing, copy­cat kind of way. The song is heart­break­ing and strung out, a lament for a loved one who abuses drugs. Smart and hon­est, The Day is the al­bum’s stand­out by a wide mar­gin.

Most of the songs that come af­ter this feel more hu­man than the al­bum’s ro­botic front end. Moby dips back into his favourite blues, gospel and folk in­flu­ences, art­fully com­bin­ing them with the elec­tronic sound­scapes.

In this way, De­stroyed sits some­where be­tween his most com­mer­cially suc­cess­ful al­bums, Play and 18.

Fans will re­joice but don’t ex­pect De­stroyed to shift 10 mil­lion copies or Moby to li­cense ev­ery sin­gle song to movies, ad­ver­tise­ments and TV shows ( again). The mu­sic in­dus­try land­scape has shifted dra­mat­i­cally since 1999.

The Right Thing sets a high wa­ter­mark and could slip un­no­ticed on to Play with its swell of strings, bro­ken beats and gutsy gospel melodies – blurry, gen­tle, lonely.

This al­bum sounds like it was writ­ten in the wee hours by an in­som­niac for other in­som­ni­acs. Some­times it is too cold and at other times the lis­tener is left want­ing more like Lie Down in Dark­ness and won­der­ing why this song was buried at track num­ber 11.

The only gripe is there’s lit­tle on De­stroyed that we haven’t heard from Moby be­fore.

MOBY De­stroyed

★ ★ ★ ■

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