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Moby – Innocents

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moby-innocents.jpgLabel: MuteScore: 9/10

While 2011’s Destroyed album was based on the concepts of isolation and separateness, the strength of Innocents lies in its spirit of collaboration which lead Moby to create his most emotional, richly colored record since Play

His first album since moving from New York to Los Angeles, Moby sought to bring an imperfection to his music and recruited Mark “Spike” Stent (U2, Massive Attack, Bjork, Goldfrapp) to produce and mix the record using weathered electronic equipment which created an accessibility and, most importantly, a humanity throughout.  The goal was simply to create music that elicited an emotional response without any thought given to its potential success.

The record opens with the cathartic “Everything that Rises” which utilizes Moby’s time-tested approach within his more ambient music of establishing a repeated chord progression over a breakbeat and then gently infusing percussive elements and melodic layers to heighten the effect.  The approach works, and the result is powerful.

A Case for Shame” is the first of two collaborations with Mute Records label mate Cold Specks, who was first referred to Moby via the label’s founder, Daniel Miller.  The vocals are a seamless fit in this bare setting alongside the brittle, cracking percussion loop and trademark piano arpeggios and strings.  “The Last Day” opens with a blues-based vocal loop that wouldn’t have felt out of place on Play or 18 and features a breathy, seductive vocal from Skylar Grey in the graceful style of Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval.

With so much of Moby’s music being gradual and dramatic, “Don’t Love Me” reveals a refreshing aggression with its crunchy DJ Shadow-sized drums alongside not-gonna-take-it-anymore-but-don’t-leave-me lyrics sung by vocalist and longtime collaborator, Inyang Bassey.  The cold, captivating “Lonely Night” is unique in its treatment of sonic space as the drum loop is thin and panned off to one side which puts the focus squarely on the gravelly voice of Mark Lanegan

Saints” opens with a cheeky nod to Moby’s 1990 techno anthem “Go!” and proves to be one of the record’s most triumphant moments with its rousing strings and wailing vocal samples while the orchestral strings and subtle piano in the plodding instrumental “Going Wrong” are almost painfully beautiful.

“When I make a record, it’s simply because I love making records.”  Moby’s motivations are derived from the enjoyment of music and its creative process, and it shows throughout Innocents.  The record is eclectic and varied yet immediately recognizable and deeply affecting.  What he considers the recent “demise” of the music industry has given him carte blanche to create his music his way.  He has chosen to make his creative process more collaborative, and the results are awe-inspiring.

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