MOBY The Innocents
Now 48, Moby shows no sign of stopping ; with four albums under his belt since 2008, three remix albums, and expanded deluxe editions of almost everything, you might be forgiven for seeing the arrival of "The Innocents" with a shrug. Who wouldn't? What can Moby say on his twelveth album that you haven't already heard?
Well, to call it his twelveth is a slight misnomer : with all the limited edition releases, remix sets, and compilations of his non-album, extra-curricular work, this is album thirty one. It's a Moby album and its business as usual. Whereas Moby once progressed - sometimes by slight steps - in each record, here, as with "Destroyed", Moby has become almost predictable, familiar ; boring. But also, as ever dependable. "The Innocents" is classic Moby : the huge, sweeping and slow string motifs, the minimal piano, the gentle, resonant rhythms. As is his wont, Moby's cracked and fragile voice is barely present : how I wish he would sing more songs on his records. Instead we get guest vocalists agogo - "Almost Home" is a beautiful lament, voiced by The Flaming Lips chief space commando Wayne Coyne - it floats and shimmers as a sunset, a golden moment. Moby's trademark, leisurely string arrangements and unhurried rhythms are slow but assured, confident in their slow pace.
Like most of his records, "The Innocents" is a record that rewards repeated, gradual listening ; ideal, perfect, for slow mornings, for a quiet hangover, a contemplative afternoon alone, for washing up and allowing the mind to wander to wherever. . At the albums conclusion, "The Night" features Mark Lanegan, resembling a despondant Nick Cave with his own, individual vocal. Elsewhere the natural melancholy of his songs is lifted, smothered if you will, by females. "Going Wrong", for example, is perfect for exhausted commuting - eyes closed, in a haze, somewhere between sleep and consciousness, as the mind wanders around at 7am on the first train of the day. No need for thinking, just feel the slow surfacing of this music made alone.
"The Perfect Life" meanwhile is beautiful : it sounds like a broken hymn. Moby then ruins it all with an overdone drug metaphor, describing the glorious act of shooting up. At its heart it is, like much of Moby's work, a mixture of joy and melancholy, the kind of "comfort in being sad" that became Nirvana's stock in trade ; almost every song on this could be a gentle meditation for the time between spaces. Outside the world is hazy, and foggy, the fields are unwalked, as a train cuts through them on the way to an office. Aren't we forgetting something? The right to just be. "Saints", and "A Long Time", uphold the tradition of a near perfect instrumental backing, despoiled slightly by human intervention, in both cases, a largely wordless mantra ; "Saints" resembling an electronic version of Pink Floyd's "Great Gig In The Sky", with an assemblage of vocal takes made out of the wordless crooning or others that somehow aspires to more than, greater than, beyond mere words. As "The Night" comes in, Mark Lanegans vocal, reminiscent of Leonard Cohen. The album closes on the largely instrumental "The Dogs", where his understated voice slowly fades out to a huge set of stings and lines, sounding for all it does, like the climax to a Hollywood movie. Being as it is, Moby's house is overlooked by the inevitable Hollywood sign, perhaps this is no surprise at all : "The Innocents" makes everyday life seem like a movie, and as the perfect soundtrack to the tedious commute, or jogging, or whatever else it might be. Another solid, and strong record, but utterly, and always, business as usual from Moby.