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Music Review: Moby – Wait For Me

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Moby's latest release, Wait For Me, doesn't necessarily contain any sounds that we haven't heard from him before. But it does place weight and emphasis on some of the particular ones. As a slow, moody, and textured collection, Wait For Me plays like a more somber and thoughtful version of some of his more successful albums.

Play was unarguably Moby's commercial peak, and found quick fans for its blend of sampled blues, electro polish, brooding strings, and staccato drum tracks. 18 followed a similar path, but placed a greater importance on tracks veering towards reserved melancholy. The path traveled between those two albums finds its ultimate destination with Wait For Me, as the upbeat moments have now been all but stripped away, leaving nothing but a thoughtful and slow electronica tone poem.

Shot In The Back Of The Head from Moby on Vimeo.

The string-laden intro "Division" sets a telling mood for the rest of the album. Its synthesized chamber strings and pads swell and wane, hinting that you might want to settle in for this one. The light drum groove of "Pale Horses", the albums first single, isn't too far off from being as active as things will get. It's a mix of beauty and sadness that will pervade the entire album, but instead of feeling dark or weighty, it has an air of hopeful longing. Its subtle and reserved, but this also makes it prime headphone melancholia.

The backwards guitar of "Shot In The Back Of The Head" helps provide additional texture to the record, as well as place emphasis on the instrumentals as more than just intermissions. Wait For Me is roughly balanced between vocal tracks and instrumental pieces, giving the set as a whole the feel of a soundtrack. This is intensified with the spoken word sample highlighted in the peace-rallying and uplifting "Study War."

"Mistake" is the sole track that finds Moby himself behind the microphone, and the guitar lines underneath gently build and channel his rock roots. "Scream Pilots" balances a persistent drum track against more ethereal strings and piano, and these two tracks become the dynamic peak for the album.

Both "JLTF" and the title track "Wait For Me" feature breathy female vocals sitting atop more full sounding arrangements that drift and flow underneath. It's a mood that moves in and out of the entire record, becoming more an emotional leitmotif as opposed to a strictly musical one. It's hypnotic even, and before you know it the gentle close of "Isolate" has come and gone, and you're left with the instinctive reach for the repeat button.

The overall tone of the record is sparse. It's not overproduced, but neither is it emotionally manipulative. It feels understated and honest, a meditation on simpler times before things became overproduced and manipulative as a matter of course. From Moby's simple hand-drawn artwork to his selection of lesser-known vocalists (who are still quite good), everything seems to be trying to focus you back on getting lost inside a single, uncluttered melody instead of the decoration and "wow" around it.

After the disappointing and forced sounding Last Night, listening to Wait For Me feels like a relaxing breath of fresh air. It's not that Moby can't do dance music; his history loudly proclaims otherwise. But his output has always varied and moved between genres from album to album, in cycles as the mood seems to strike. But unlike the last release, this one definitely feels like the product of an inspired and honest artistic cycle. Music for music's sake, and not the release schedule. It probably won't find the exaggerated radio and commercial spins of some of his other work, but it's a rewarding and rich album for those who have always preferred "deep cuts" to singles.

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About David R Perry