Fame, for some musicians, is like an aphrodisiac to their creativity - it spurs them on to make better music, to experiment and progress past the material that first got them noticed. But for others it seems to a license to publish every self-indulgent bit of fluff that drifts into their heads. Sadly Moby falls squarely in the second category. After his international mega hit Play in 1999, this highly talented producer and musician seems to have decided it's okay to churn out track after track of whatever tickles his fancy and forget about his fans (or even the general listening public).
To gauge the depths of his self-indulgence, you just need to listen to Hotel. Out of 15 tracks perhaps four are at all interesting and only one, "Lift Me Up", bears repeated re-listening. What's worse, all four are grouped right at the start of the CD, so that the album begins with promise and turns rapidly into unlistenable mush. Hotel is like a wind up toy that starts off full of melodious noise and light, then just moves slower and slower until, mercifully, it shudders to a stop.
So what has changed since Play? In some ways nothing - Moby's production is still absolutely flawless, he still plays almost all the instruments himself, and he is still a great ambassador for the limitless possibilities of recording-company-free DIY music. But in other ways everything has changed. Rather than seeking out more of the lush samples of vintage blues that made Play so iconic, Moby has concentrated on writing his own songs. Like many great producers, he tends to get obsessed with a sound that he likes and forgets that most ordinary listeners won't know (or care) what he is on about. He has also never been the best lyricist, and many of his hits are enjoyable in spite of the lyrics rather than because of them.
You can't blame Moby for wanting to move on after Play - no real musician is happy to cover the same ground over and over. But you can blame him for failing to realise where his talents lie. This is in the alchemical melding of pithy samples with modern rhythms in combinations that are at once haunting and exciting. He is, in some ways, a standard bearer for the philosophy of house music - borrow from everyone and give back to everyone.
Unfortunately Hotel shows us a star who's fallen fatally in love with the sound of his own voice. Perhaps if the album goes belly up Moby will reexamine the path he is on. Until then, if you care at all about Moby's future, don't encourage him to make more of this rubbish by buying it.
- Alistair Fairweather
With a bit more daring Hotel could have been much more than a nice, but ultimately inconsequential, Sunday morning record. - Nils van der Linden for iAfrica.com
Moby has filed away his distinguishing characteristics, and all that's left is an artist too played out to even be one of Eminem's punchlines.- Rob Mitchum for Pitchfork Media
This weekend Scott Stapp, the voice of legendary rock band Creed, kicks off his world tour in South Africa. Read More »
Add your review
Ciara’s sixth studio album has beat and sex appeal but lacks heart. Read More »
Add your review
South AfricaCity Press
Johannesburg CBDResourcing Solutions
HousesR 2 495 000
HousesR 6 900 000