August 15, 2009
CD title: “Wait for Me”
Published: June 2009, Mute
Almost 20 years ago, Moby released “Go,” the single that started his career. Beginning with a brooding piano, it metamorphoses into an anthem of ominous strings and high-speed drum machines, led by an urgent, commanding shout: “Go!” It is an exciting rush of dance and house music.
His new single, “Shot in the Back of the Head,” is essentially different. Here, a solitary, distorted guitar sample opens the track, but then soaring synthesizers envelop everything and lift the song into an anguished elegy. “Go” is frantic and energetic, but “Shot in the Back of the Head” is intensely introverted, a defining quality of Moby’s newest record, Wait for Me.
Over his career, Moby, born Richard Melville, has perfected his own brand of techno-pop, selling over 20 million records worldwide. But after hearing David Lynch speak on creative freedom from the marketplace, he wanted Wait for Me to be an album he could love, not a chart-topper.
“As a result,” he wrote in his online journal, “it’s a quieter and more melodic and more mournful and more personal record than some of the records I've made in the past.”
With this approach, Moby has produced his most beautiful and penetrating record. This is not due so much to the words, which, true to Moby’s style, are simply vague. (Typical lines include “Put me on the train / Send me back my home / Couldn't leave without you / When I tried to roam,” from “Pale Horses.”) Nor is it because of the vocals, which are graceful and attractive but not very gripping.
The outward strength of this record is its sound. Moby has a gift for ambient music, and he covers Wait for Me with full, gleaming synthesizers, touches it with delicate guitars and pianos, and anchors it with slow, steady beats. Some tracks are somber and grieving, others are possessed by ethereal bliss, but nearly all reach breathtaking, symphonic heights – the synthesized glow of “Division,” the surging “Shot in the Back of the Head,” the hushed choirs of “A Seated Night,” and the weary, eloquent “Isolate.”
If sound is the surface of Wait for Me, spirituality is its core. Moby’s Christian faith, vulnerable but unyielding, is what unifies the sweeping range of sound and emotion. Its desperate side is revealed in tracks like the harrowing title track and the bleary “Hope is Gone.” But it shines brightest on the otherworldly anthem “Study War,” which samples a preacher proclaiming the day “when we shall lay down our burdens and study war no more,” amidst aching gospel vocals and celestial keyboards. Moby summons a vision that is both transcendent and piercingly human.
No matter how introverted the music sounds, Moby ultimately looks outward and upward, and this worldview gives Wait for Me a foundation of reverence. Without it, this album might have been merely gloomy and melodramatic. Instead, the beauty and power of Wait for Me lies in pointing to something greater than itself.
Copyright 2009 Y-Press
Listen to songs from Wait for Me at Moby’s website. http://www.moby.com/journal