Moby’s newest album, “Hotel,” proves that techno still sells and he still chills
Let Eminem disrespect Moby all he wants—people do still listen to techno.
And Moby’s new double-CD release “Hotel” is as strong a piece of evidence if that as I’ve heard recently.
Recorded largely in his New York bedroom studio, as reported in the Times Arts and Leisure section, “Hotel” is a stunning collection of soulful sounds that could very well surpass the success of 1999’s mainstream break-out release, “Play.”
Moby’s unique sound lies in his weaving of modern techno beats and more classic string arrangements into looping, trance-like, soulful mixes of repetitive music and vocal samplings. Although Moby says that “Hotel” is entirely sample-free, meaning that all the arrangements are his original work, he left intact his time-tested recipe for success. “Raining Again,” the second track, has the same sound as the 2000 “South Side” track, featuring Gwen Stefani, melding rapid-fire breaks that give way to choruses of Moby singing, “Sadness like water raining down.”
The following track, “Beautiful,” has a strong rock and roll feel, peppered with electric guitar riffs. And lest the song be construed as an homage to Christina Aguilera’s hit of the same name, Moby makes clear that it is about keeping the uglies at bay. “Look at us we’re beautiful/ all the people push and pull/ but they’ll never get inside/ we’ve got too much to hide.”
But it’s not as if Moby doesn’t rub elbows with the common folk. When not in his studio drawing on his 14 years of experience to record the thousands of songs amassed for the creation of a single album, you can find him running his Lower East Side café, Teany. Moby evokes nostalgia in “Lift Me Up” and “Beautiful,” both of which have a sound solidly rooted in the ’80s. “Where You End,” recalls the sound of The Cars in their heyday. And “Beautiful,” which opens slow and rolling like an old Staple Singers track, pulls on your heartstrings with the chorus, popularized by New Order, “Up, down, turn around, please don’t let me hit the ground/ tonight I think I’ll walk alone, find myself as I go home/Oh, I’ve never met anyone quite like you before.”
An early David Bowie meets “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” sound flies out of “Spiders,” with Moby singing, “Why did you leave, and why won’t you come and save us again?/ Let peace and beauty reign/ and brings us love again like you can.” And a positively Modern English vibe soars from “Dream About Me.” It evokes that band’s seminal hit, “I’ll Melt With You,” yet this is a song about the end of love, with the lyrics, “Just dream about someone else tonight.”
The racy vibes of the techno intro and echoing beats of “Very” capture Blondie on the “Rapture” album, with the simple chorus of, “Hey, it’s cold out there, so come inside/ Hey, it’s warm in here, so come inside.”
A jungle techno feel emerges from “I Like It,” a sexy, sultry track that brings you back to the Madonna “Erotica” album, with the sexy voice of Moby’s friend Laura Dawn (the cultural director at MoveOn.org) singing, “I like everything we try/ I like everything we did.”
Toward the end of the first CD, Moby delivers a rapid-fire succession of sad, beautiful songs with piano accompaniment and mellow crooning. The last single, “Homeward,” sets up with a shakere, a gourd rattle, and piano intro, then goes ambient. A bonus track, “35 minutes,” continues this ambient feel with a mélange of slow chords and strings in a repetitive pattern.
“Hotel” was released on March 14 in Europe, where it has already shot to number one on their charts. As good as the first CD in this set is—and it could very well outsell “Play,” which sold millions of copies—the second CD, “Ambient,” is the real gem in this collection.
In “Ambient,” Moby has gathered 11 instrumental tracks that run at about six minutes each. Together, they function as the most perfect chill-out music ever created. Put this “Ambient” CD on and let yourself totally surrender to the otherworldly, even cosmic vibes.
For now, the two-CD set is a limited offer, after which they will be sold separately. Moby will be appearing around town in the next several weeks to promote “Hotel.” Whether you are an aspiring home studio-recording artist seeking a few tips, or just a fan of mellow techno tunes, this “Hotel” is definitely worth checking into.