Review Summary: As happy as he is hairy, Moby plays the blues but ends up mostly in grey areas.
Has it really
been a decade since Play
? It seems like only yesterday when Moby, the awkward experimental musician, became the world’s most unlikely superstar, selling over nine million copies and having his songs appear in media all across the world. In the ten years since that commercial pinnacle, the artist known has Moby has mostly kept on the quiet, with the exception of a few minor hits, an online lashout at the RIAA earlier this year and that famous Eminem diss (“NOBODY listens to techno!”). But you must understand that this decline into minor obscurity has been almost entirely on Moby’s terms. He’s been creating some small gems in his time out of the limelight, too – 2005’s Hotel
was an ambitious, occasionally brilliant project in which Moby performed and sang nearly every song by himself, whilst 2008’s Last Night
was a quasi-concept record about a evening’s clubbing gone wrong. His latest offering is a slightly different affair, however – and not exactly an easy one to digest properly.
Wait For Me
sees the Moby sound (if it can be pinned down at all) putting on the breaks and slowing to a crawl. This is a subdued affair, with a lot more focus on the music’s atmospherics and soundscapes and less than half of the album’s tracks featuring vocals. It’s very nice music – occasionally, it can even become beautiful. Sadly, however, Wait For Me
is an album suffers more than any record he has released – arguably even more so than his ill-fated early nineties material. If anything is to blame, this is due to the album’s meandering, tail-chasing musicality and heavily tiresome over-length.
There is simply not enough going on to substantiate many of the ideas found on the record, which are lost in a trickle of ambient filler. Take "Shot In The Back of the Head" as a prime example. It starts with a grooving beat and an interesting guitar loop played in reverse, continuing with a few added rhythmic layers over the course of a few minutes with the idea that it shall build up into something bigger…and then, nothing. Its succeeding track, "Study War", follows suit, with a sampled speech that longs for the day that we will “study war no more”. A strong sentiment, certainly, and one that Moby has supported for a long time (anyone remember his Public Enemy collab "Make Love Fuck
War"?). However, it’s as if one main structure has been recorded and looped over four minutes, rarely variating and ultimately becoming so repetitive that it makes "The Rockerfeller Skank" sound verbose and prolix.
Frustrations continue through several exercises in inexcusable gratuity that plague Wait For Me
’s tracklisting. Just what purpose do "Division", "Stock Radio", "JLTF-1" and "Isolate" serve? Dull, lifeless synth sludges through these mercifully brief tracks that barely pass as interludes. It’s moments such as these on the record that provide some of the most boring and insignificant work Moby has ever put his name to. Thankfully, fans will sporadically find moments of solace amidst the sixteen tracks on offer. Single "Pale Horses" has a placid, light funk to it, with gorgeous lead vocals provided by one Amelia Zirin Brown. Another unknown female, Melody Zimmer, provides the delicate, ethereal voice in "JLTF", which floats serenely in terms of musicianship, marrying a post-rock sound with elements of shoegaze. It seems strange that next to everything that is interesting about Wait For Me
involves songs with vocals. However, Moby is somewhat out of his depth when no voices are to be heard; failing to engage the listener.
Wait For Me
is spacious, airy and sonically unenthused. It’s a credit to the man for attempting to maintain his reputation as a fearlessly diverse musician, songwriter and producer. Having said that, perhaps what he’s most unhappy about is this: an entire decade after Play
, Moby has failed to create a start-to-finish record that holds a candle to that very album. And creating albums like Wait For Me
isn’t going to help his case much further.