People hate Moby. Whether it’s his personality or his music is up for wild debate, but even taking a glance at a few critical reviews of his latest album Destroyed, it’s quite obvious that a lot of people subjectively have it in for the self-proclaimed “little idiot.” Regardless, he’s sitting pretty in his new Los Angeles home and his new record (which comes accompanied with a book of gorgeous photography) isn’t all that bad.
One thing about Destroyed and one thing about almost every Moby release is that the build-ups in the songs and general changes within the songs are generally predictable. Something new will happen in a Moby track every four or eight measures and it will almost always happen on the downbeat. It’s not a bad thing, it’s classic composition and the majority of music today is constructed in such a manner. It can become quite tiring in a way that Timbaland productions since 2007 have become ubiquitous, but using such standard modeling form allows for an extremely cohesive and fluid experience, where you can easily allow the more important aspects of the music, you know, the actual music, to seep in and focus on the mood and emotion presented within a given track.
The album’s opening track “The Broken Places” provides the greatest example. A sparse opening based off of a delayed kick drum and a pad that sound mildly distorted before a more warm one joins a long side it. It’s a simple composition, but one that provides the isolated feeling meant to take the listener in through Destroyed‘s 60+ minute drive.
The mood on this record is that of an evolved version of his previous release Wait For Me. It’s somber, mournful, sad, but hopeful at times and considering the concept of Destroyed is one that is based off of Moby working on broken equipment in the small hours of the morning while on tour, how could it be anything less? If one thing is clear, this record is meant for nighttime listening. “The Violent Bear it All Away,” one of many instrumental tracks on the album, perhaps gives the best summary in that it contains piano and strings, infused with drum samples and electronics, that builds and comes down beautifully and creates a mood that’s both sides of the emotional spectrum. One especially nice touch to this track is that you can hear the pedals of the piano being touched, letting you hear the actual mechanics of the instrument, giving you a humanistic accent to a song that could have gone horribly wrong, like the closing track “When You Are Old,” which suffers from sounding extremely artificial and while it’s a nice track in theory, it drags on the end of the record.
Can you imagine if “The Violent..” it were completely programmed in Logic Pro using virtual instruments, then quantized and drowned in faux-reverb? It’d be the epitome of what Electronic music has been given a reputation for: being robotic and having no soul. Luckily, Moby has had soul since he opened the box of Alan Lomax field recording samples for his 1999 release that every critic seems to compare every one his his releases since. Though rarely, it’s a valid comparison sometimes, as tracks “Lie Down in the Darkness” and “Rockets” provide subtle flashbacks with their chopped up vocal loops that have been signature to a big bulk of his productions since Play.
While there are a lot of tracks on Destroyed that contain inklings from previous releases by the guy, they contain refreshing and unique twists that continue the legacy of solid electronic music. “Be The One” contains a highly vocated main vocal, as well as a blaring guitar that drones and rocks like something that would be featured on a Massive Attack track during their 100th Window era if the boys wanted to feature a guitar as a prominent instrument.
The true master of the vocoder and king of the album? “After.” An uptempo track driven by synths, string hits, and a hell of a lot of cleverly programmed drum beats. It’s a little bit dance, a little trance, a bit of alternative Hip-Hop, and a hell of a banger. Layers upon layers of vocals by both Moby and a backup crooner sent through a phaser sets the emotional mood while the beat plays out like RJD2 at his finest.
It’s no Play. It’s no 18. It’s no Last Night. It’s no Wait For Me. It’s Destroyed and it’s far from being a record you’d be willing to hit with a sledge hammer. Beyond the musical content, a super-ultra deluxe edition (that Amazon has on sale for $27) comes with a 100+ page book containing photography by Moby, while on tour, while making this record. It’s the essential companion to understanding the concept and thought process beyond Destroyed and if you can’t pick it up, you can head on over to the Destroyed Mini-site to stream the entire record and look at every photograph in the book.
Album rating: 3.5/5
What do you think about Moby? Destroyed? Love or hate? Leave a comment below..!
Purchase Destroyed [Moby's website]
Purchase Destroyed with Book [Amazon]
Purchase Destroyed [iTunes]